At the start of this (22nd) century, the 'Pirate Industrials' funded and built the Asteroid Belt colonies, only then to break away from Earth. Negotiations collapsed and the 'Pirate Wars' began - Earth's attacks on the colonies' central trading route still continue. This is the FIRETRACK, spanning the mining worlds, separated by Commspaces, areas of space filled with discarded communication hardware - space junk.
In principle, each world is of four types - 'Baseworld', 'Dustworld', 'Iceworld' and 'Mallworld' - although there is some variation within each of these individual types.
Worlds are individually driven by nuclear power plants, disguised as 'eyes' within the 'Devil Rock' at the end of each colony. Destroying these plants throws the settlement into darkness. In the BBC Micro version, you must then re-attack in the blackout to prevent the machine-building mechanisms reconstructing everything.
Variable defence levels have been observed throughout the worlds including instances of total abandonment - you need only to fly over these abandoned worlds once to wipe them out.
You are one of the few security-cleared ex-military personnel open for Firetrack pilot selection. You must try to destroy as many of the mining worlds as you can. Your success is indicated by your score (number of creds). In the BBC Micro version you must ultimately try to find the 'White Light' opening somewhere in the Firetrack. Flying the Firetrack has always been difficult enough - it may well be that Earth itself is now at stake.
You start each mission with a team of three Hatchfighters. Fly across the colonies knocking out the major power nodes (+), power junctions (x) and computer centres (?). Finally, destroy the Devil Rocks' eyes to claim your bonus. This starts at 50 creds, adding 50 more for each (+) that you hit, and doubling it for each (x). These are added up in the order they were hit.
(?)s are the computer centres. Earth Council will allocate you an extra team member if you can destroy at least ten of these. Escape from Commspace, and they will again award you an extra Hatchfighter. In the BBC Micro version, if you only have one team-member remaining, this will restore your team-size to three.
In the Electron version, only the first world can be accessed directly. The remaining worlds can only be reached by escaping from that world.
Whilst gaining experience, do not try to shoot everything in sight. Hold back to give yourself room to move and fire, and concentrate more on shooting at defences you need to shoot at in order to escape. Later on, more complex techniques will be needed to tackle the semi-chaos and chaos worlds. Holding the fire key down fast-fires: you won't really need this until later, but you can use it anyway. On empty worlds, stay towards the top of the screen and concentrate on hitting the (+) and (x) formations.
Z - Left, X - Right, * - Up, / - Down, RETURN - Fast-Fire
P/SPACE - Pause On/Off, S/Q - Sound On/Off, SPACE - Start Game, ESCAPE - Quit Game
If the screen flickers after the Electron version has loaded, press key 1 to stop this occurring.