Alien Mines by Ingo Werstler
A downloadable game
You are the pilot of a mine sweeper spaceship. Your mission is to clear a passage through a minefield. A huge generation ship with over 400 settlers is following you. They rely on you. If you manage to wipe more than 85% of the mines, the spaceship's shields will be able to protect the ship from the remaining mines and make its way through the minefield and land on the nearby planet.
You can control the computer with the keyboard only - as it was in the 80s.
In the game itself, you can use the cursor keys for left and right and the keys A,S and D to activate the blue, red and green shields.
Your energy is very limited and every action will have an effect on your energy:
-1 flying through space
-5 activating a shield
-50 hitting a mine with the wrong shield
+25 hitting a mine with the correct shield
If you wipe out less than 85% of the mines you will fail, even if you survive.
This is not about you.
* * *
Alpha Centauri Ab is finally in range of our sensors. Over 70 years after my great grand parents started their journey together with over 1000 other settlers we could do a first scan of the planet we are heading too. We are now only 432. Lack of resources and some major accidents caused a lot of deaths and infertility was bigger than expected. But the remaining group is healthy and if we can successfully land the generation ship on Ab, we have good chances to be the first settlement on a different planet.
If only we could share this with earth - but we haven't heard anything for over 40 years. God knows what happened.
Our scientists could analyse the first scans. It looks promising. Oxygene level is acceptable, no poisonous gases, oceans, land masses with vegetation and acceptable temperature. This planet is definitely habitable. And as expected, no signs of a civilization.
I am so happy! This planet seems to be the paradise we hoped for.
Only 3 months until we will reach the planet. But today something is different. Our scientists are nervous and I only received a rather evasive answer to my questions.
What is wrong?
ELECTROMAGNETIC SIGNALS! How is this possible? There is no higher live on this planet and all the other planets are dead. They are minimal. But they are there. And they seem to come from a whole orbit around Alpha Centauri A. We could not recognize them earlier, they are too subtle. What is this?
We have started a probe to analyze the signals and see where they come from. The probe will reach the source of the signals in 1 week.
Mines! These are mines! Active mines. Billions of mines. They are not simply in one spot, they are everywhere. It seems they are building a deadly sphere around the star. There are so many, that on any passage through the minefield, we would hit thousands of mines. Our shields are good and we won't have an issue with a few, but we won't survive more than 8 or 10 direct hits. What shall we do? We can't change our route, we can't turn, we can't brake. We have to go straight through the minefield.
We are dead.
29 escape capsules… that's all we have. 29 capsules for 4 people max. The capsule might make their way through the minefield. But they need a lof of luck. They are small and the distance between the mines is barely big enough to navigate between them. 29 capsules… 116 of us can survive - if they make it in the capsule to Ab - 316 will not - they will die. Just a few weeks away from their destination. How will we decide who can survive? And will those that are selected survive on Ab with only that what they can carry in the escape capsules?
We discovered a small passage through the minefield with only about 50 mines. Still too many for our ship but the escape capsule can easily get through. And we can reach the passage from our position. At least a bit of hope for some of us.
If only we could clean the passage.
Twenty days before we reach the minefield. We changed our course so we enter the minefield through the passage. This allows us to start the escape capsules a few minutes before the impact and they can fly through the minefield safely. I still did not give up the idea that the passage can be cleaned. The probe analyzed the mines. They seem to react to electromagnetic pulses. Our scientists don't think this could help but it's our only straw we can cling too.
They HAVE to look into it.
We could identify three types of mines, each being a bit different from the other. If you hit the right frequency, you can not only deactivate the mine, it will even release some energy. Our scientists and engineers are now working day and night to find a solution. They know that they will be in the escape pods but now they recognized that it's not the case for their families...
In 2 days we reach the mines. Our engineers have built a mine-sweeper vessel. Three of the escape capsules, each equipped with one energy generator to produce a different energy pulse. The energy we can transfer to the vessel will be barely enough. We need to digest energy from the mines and be almost perfect with this. Hit the right mines and hit at least 85% of them.
If the vessel gets destroyed or if we don't wipe enough mines... there will be only 26 capsules left.
Just one more hour… Our pilot is ready. The vessel is all fueled up. We identified 96 passengers for the escape capsules. I won't be one of them.
The vessel will start in a few minutes, lead our way and start cleaning the passage in close distance, 2 minutes before we enter it.
If anything happens, we will have 2 minutes before most of us die. And only 2 minutes to start all escape capsules.
The vessel has succesfully started, all systems work as exepected. It will enter the minefield in 2 minutes. We did all we could. We have a great pilot. We do have a chance!
If only I could get one question out of my head. Why are these mines there? What scared this civilization so much that they put their whole star into a sphere of mines? And what if those, that should not enter, will come back?
But first things first, we have to survive.
GOOD LUCK PILOT!
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