It's been a hell of a ride the last week or so. Before the attacks on the Witch Head region the Thargoids were nothing but a afterthought. Something we should have an answer for but nothing pressing. After, we are actively pursuing the tech necessary to fight them and a ship build to use for it as a full-time role. After another day of rescues in the imperial stations on fire we were exhausted and frankly a bit pissed off at the attackers. Time to take my friend up on his offer to get me into the fight. Fortunately, a week before this we had actually done the work needed to obtain the Guardian Gauss Cannon. A weapon that greatly resembles the rail guns I had been working on in the Challenger, Frodo. They were a bit more power-hungry and my previous load-out of 1 medium and 3 small rails was too much for Frodo's power plant so I had to settle on three. Otherwise we loaded on overcharged multi-cannons for the other hard-points and called it good. Frodo is a bit heavy on armor and as such a little slow but very survivable.
I joined up with two other commanders to take on my first Thargoid, a Cyclops interceptor. Dropping into the wreckage and seeing it turn and make a b-line to my ship definitely shot up the adrenaline. The sound as it scanned my ship was disturbing. I can see how they effectively intimidate just by their operation. I returned the favor and scanned the Thargoid for good measure and it went on to investigate the other ships in the wing. Once it was satisfied and moved back towards the wreckage the wing lead attacked and it reacted like an angry bear. It was a decent introduction to fighting them. The pattern needed to get in, strike at the hearts, and get out started to make itself plain. Pass after pass we targeted and destroyed the various hearts. Each taking a turn at keep the swarm occupied or taking the wrath of the Cyclops. In a shorter time than I expected the Thargoid was wailing and dying.
From there we tackled a more powerful variant known as a Basilisk. This time however the fight was not so one-sided. This one was FAR, FAR more aggressive and it's speed was just incredible. Early on in the fight the wing lead's windscreen failed and he was forced to wake out for repairs. We tried to hold the fight down until he could return but I quickly discovered I did not have the speed to separate from it and so in a short time my shields were down and hull was being shredded. My other wing mate tried to no effect to get the beasts attention. It was no use, it was focused on my destruction. The only way out was a high-wake. So we had to abandon that fight. We tried again after patching up the ships and I learned to boost into the 'goid rather than run away, it's turns are slow and boosting past gave me much needed separation distance so that it could not continue to attack me. With that learned we were able to work it down taking heart, after heart until it too died in a mournful wail. We took on a few more and came out victorious and that felt good. A little justice for the people dying back in those stations. After the wing broke up I took on a few lower threat signals and found scouts in those. While slippery and hard to hit they were not really much threat to my Challenger. In groups they certainly strain the shields but each individual is not very tough. Keeping focused on one and running it down to destruction is the key. Keep pips to engines and stay maneuverable.
Looking at the overall conflict part of me knows that this is a vicious cycle. That they kill us and we kill them and the wheel turns but yet it's difficult, and perhaps even foolish to assume that it can be otherwise. Any time multiple species need access to some limited resource, nature says they will fight over it. Hearing that huge, obviously biological ship cry out as it dies is not so much a pleasure. I feel a tingle of sorrow to destroy something so unique. It's more a satisfaction of knowing I'm helping to insure that it's my species winning the fight and maybe at some point an equilibrium is reached where they, and we know not to push harder. For now though, they need killing and I've learned that I can help do that.
We saved about 2000 people, killed 4 interceptors and 16 scouts. Certainly not record numbers, but all of it was out first contribution to the war with the Thargoids and there will be more to come.