I’m going to die on Uklotigal Itley.
I made a rookie mistake on this dead purple rock, the fourth planet I’ve visited across two galaxies so far, and the coldest and most radioactive one yet. I’d been looking to upgrade my tiny little starter starship, so I jumped when I came across a wreck that was sleeker, stronger and had more storage space. I knew I’d have to fix it up a bit to get it working again—the pulse engine, launch thrust, shield and hyperdrive were all shot—but I figured it wouldn’t be a problem to transfer everything in my old ship to the new one and then immediately repair whatever needed it. And my old ship was just a two minute walk away, so tracking it down shouldn’t have been a problem if I had to manually carry all that gear over. I held down the button I thought I was supposed to hold down, buzzing with thoughts of finally being able to hold my own in spaceflight shootouts.
The ship was now mine. Everything in my old ship’s inventory was not.
I don’t know what happened. I don’t know where or how I messed up. All I know is I’m the owner of a worthless space jalopy and very little else. I had everything I needed to fix this new ship up in my old one, and now all I have is ten empty inventory slots and whatever stray resources I could keep on my person.
As soon as I realized what happened, I ran towards my old ship. Or at least I ran towards where I thought my old ship was. A funny thing about my equipment: I can use it to scan my surroundings and upload that information to some kind of universal database, and I can pick up points of interest from far away, but I can’t set any waypoints of my own, and there’s no compass to help orient me. I tried to use the landscape to guide me back, but either I got lost or perhaps the original ship blasted off into space without me once I claimed the new one. Either way I couldn’t find it and couldn’t recover whatever was on board.
I walked back to my current ship. I looked at it for a few quiet moments. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t sad. I was a little annoyed at myself for messing up like this. Mostly I was searching my thoughts for the best course of action. What would I have to do to get this thing in the air, and how long would it wind up taking?
Normally I’d mine for the resources I needed, and build by hand whatever parts would salvage this ship. Uklotigal Itley won’t cooperate, though. It’s a lifeless husk, rich in common gutter elements like plutonium and iron and nothing else, and with almost none of the caves that house most of the prime mining action on other worlds. I could try to buy the elements I need, but the nearest alien outpost on my map was over a fifteen minute walk away, and I couldn’t remember if it had a trading portal or not. I scanned the horizon for the green question marks that my exosuit improbably deploys to guide me towards a site of interest, hoping one would have a link to the trading network, or at least a scanner that would help me track down another Korvax structure. I headed for the nearest question mark, with no guarantee of finding anything useful.
I found absolutely nothing useful.
I walked towards the next question mark, and the next, and the one after that. Eventually I scrounged up enough material to fix some of the ship. I still can’t take off, though. I need one specific element for that, and like life itself, it’s nowhere to be found on Uklotigal Itley. Did I mention the temperature on this place is a steady 17 degrees below zero Celsius? Or that the radiation level is just a little too high for a guy like me to stay alive for that long? Every few minutes I have to pump more plutonium into my life support system just to keep from becoming as useless as the stupid ship that got me into this mess.
After a couple of hours of roaming Uklotigal Itley, discovering abandoned shelters and ancient alien artifacts but not the one thing I need to leave, I finally found a place where I could buy the particular thing I needed to get starbound again. I need 50 of it to fix the ship. The store had 48 in stock.
I’m going to die on Uklotigal Itley. And if I don’t I just might have to kill myself.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin. Maybe he’ll make a go of it on Uklotigal Itley.