The Thargoid Interceptor, previously identified only as an Unknown Ship, is an alien vessel used by the Thargoids. Five Interceptor subtypes have been identified: the Cyclops, the Basilisk, the Medusa, the Hydra, and the Orthrus.
Alien crash sites with Interceptors shipwrecks had been found on various planets and moons near the Pleiades Nebula following an initial discovery on August 30, 3302. They were called Unknown Ships, because their origin was a mystery. On 14 October 3303, Professor Alba Tesreau of Aegis said “Recent analysis of the Thargoid shipwreck in the Pleiades Sector AB-W B2-4 system indicates that it is a little over 100 years old, despite being extremely similar, if not identical, to the currently active Thargoid Interceptor. This suggests that Thargoid ship design does not change particularly rapidly, and also that the shipwreck in HIP 17125 could be equally old.”
Active Thargoid Interceptors were first encountered on January 5, 3303. Commanders were interdicted by Thargoid Interceptors while traveling through hyperspace and pulled into normal space with their systems disabled, after which they were scanned and the Interceptors jumped away.
While encounters with Interceptors were limited to hyperspace interdictions and passive scanning for independent pilots for several months, destroyed Federation military convoys began appearing with battle damage from highly unusual weapons. Sightings of Thargoid Interceptors in the vicinity of the convoys implied they were the perpetrators, though the motive for such attacks remained a mystery at the time. It is believed that the attacks were provoked by the Federal vessels transporting various Thargoid technologies and Meta-Alloys, based on firsthand accounts of Interceptor behavior in subsequent attacks on private vessels, but the Federation did not comment on the matter.
Connection to Alien Structures
On June 2, 3303, CMDR Mobiusetti documented the first known interaction between a Thargoid Interceptor and Thargoid Barnacles, then only known as "Alien Structures", on Pleiades Sector OI-T C3-7 A 6 at coordinates -42.778, -21.713, confirming the two are related. The Interceptor approached one Barnacle, incapacitating any nearby ships and SRVs. The craft then rotated until its propulsion array faced and was aligned with the Barnacle, before drawing a pulsing beam of light or energy from it for a brief period. The Interceptor departed as rapidly as it arrived. It was later confirmed through analysis of Guardian records of their own war with the Thargoids that Barnacles slowly leeched resources from planetary bodies to produce Meta-Alloys, which Interceptors would harvest to replenish themselves.
Professor Palin determined the vessels' origin by comparing data from the Unknown Ships with older Thargoid samples from the First Thargoid War. Palin's experiments resulted in conclusive proof that the Unknown Ships were Thargoid.
The research data was seized by Federal agents who wanted to convey it to a Federal research facility. However, the ships carrying the data were attacked by Thargoid vessels and the data leaked into the public domain. The Federal Times conducted further research on the cryptic data before publishing the report on June 16, 3303.
Beginning on September 26, 3303, "Cyclops Variant" Thargoid Interceptors began indiscriminately attacking independent pilots in addition to Federal and Imperial fleets. Sightings have been confirmed at sites classified as "Non-Human Signal Sources" in the vicinity of the Pleiades Nebula, where they could be observed monitoring wreckage of human ships and retrieving Thargoid-related objects such as Thargoid Sensors, Thargoid Probes, and Meta-Alloys. Interceptors were also reported at Thargoid Barnacle fields.
On November 13, 3303, a second Interceptor type was discovered by CMDR Factabulous: the "Basilisk Variant". Basilisk Variants are primarily distinguished from Cyclops Variants by their darker hull coloration with red scarring and a fifth Thargoid Heart, but they also possess significantly increased offensive and defensive capabilities. It is believed that Basilisk Variants are older vessels that have weathered more battles. Basilisk Variants and Cyclops Variants do not currently appear to be hostile towards each other and have even been sighted peacefully collecting meta-alloys together.
A third Interceptor type, the "Medusa Variant", was witnessed attacking three stations on December 14, 3303. The Medusa, identified by the vibrant red spikes on their petals and surrounding the cockpit, surpassed even the capabilities of the Basilisk. Analysis of the Thargoid Medusa Tissue Sample shows that the vessel has bio-mechanical tissue. The Medusa appeared to be older and more developed with denser biological matter and more intricate technological elements than samples of the Cyclops and Basilisk. Three more stations were attacked by Medusa Interceptors on December 21st.
A fourth Interceptor type, the "Hydra Variant", began appearing on August 28, 3304. The Hydra exhibited more complex and aggressive structural features than the Medusa, most notably four additional rotating petals behind the standard eight petals that were impenetrable to weapons and partially obscured its hearts, as well as an acid green coloration. Following the trend of the previous Interceptor variants, the Hydra's offensive and defensive capabilities demonstrated a significant increase over its predecessors. The Pilots Federation confirmed independent pilots' reports of the new ship the following day. Admiral Aden Tanner also provided Aegis's preliminary findings: "We can confirm that this new ship – classified as the Hydra – is a variant of the Thargoid Interceptor. It is structurally stronger than the Cyclops, Basilisk or Medusa, and releases a larger swarm of Thargon drones." In response to this development, the Pilots Federation sealed off the Cone Sector FN-J b9-0 system, which was believed to contain high concentrations of Hydra Interceptors. Despite this, The Gnosis, flagship of the Canonn Interstellar Research Group, confirmed that it would still attempt to jump into the now permit-locked system as scheduled on September 6. The jump attempt failed when a number of Hydras hyperdicted The Gnosis, leaving the vessel stranded and damaged in Outotz ST-I d9-6.
On August 25, 3305, a fifth Interceptor type designated the "Orthrus Variant" was spotted by multiple pilots at the abandoned Palin Research Centre on Maia A 3 A. The Orthrus most closely resembled a standard Cyclops, but with new yellow markings and coloration around the cockpit and along the edges of the petals. The cockpit itself appeared to have been reinforced with additional plating, and the body of the vessel was symmetrically dotted with small protrusions of unknown significance. The capabilities of the Orthrus could not be analysed in full, as it fled to hyperspace immediately upon being encountered and did not engage in combat, but pilots were able to determine that it had five Thargoid Hearts and continuously active shields. Orthrus encounters appeared to cease only a week later. While their role among the Thargoids could not be determined, it was speculated that rather than being an offensive unit like the Cyclops, Basilisk, Medusa, and Hydra, the Orthrus was a support unit responsible for seeding new Thargoid Barnacles in locations that the Thargoids claimed as their territory.
|Variant||Thargoid Hearts||Thargon Swarm Size||USS Threat Level||Notes||Image|
|Cyclops||4||32||5-6||Non-hostile unless encountered alongside Thargoid Scouts or provoked by approaching closely, attacking, or refusing to drop Thargoid or Guardian commodities.|
|Basilisk||5||64||6-7||Non-hostile unless encountered alongside Thargoid Scouts or provoked by approaching closely, attacking, or refusing to drop Thargoid or Guardian commodities. More powerful weaponry than Cyclops. Faster than the other variants with a top speed of ~530m/s|
|Medusa||6||96||7-8||Non-hostile unless encountered alongside Thargoid Scouts or provoked by approaching closely, attacking, or refusing to drop Thargoid or Guardian commodities. More powerful weaponry than Basilisk.|
|Hydra||8||128||8-9||Non-hostile unless encountered alongside Thargoid Scouts or provoked by approaching closely, attacking, or refusing to drop Thargoid or Guardian commodities. More powerful weaponry than Medusa.|
|Orthrus||5||?||?||Non-hostile. Flees immediately upon approach. Possibly a support vessel meant to seed new Thargoid Barnacles.|
All Thargoid Interceptors use the same organic design: while the apparent "cockpit" of the vessel is at the bow and the propulsion mechanism at the stern as is typical of human starships, the central structure of the vessel is vertically-oriented and features an octagonal symmetry. Eight large "petals" surround the cockpit, and are capable of extending and contracting. Similarly, eight smaller petals surround the propulsion mechanism; these are extended when the vessel is moving and flattened when it is stationary. In place of mechanical subsystems, Interceptors possess organic modules called "Thargoid Hearts", which are capable of repairing hull damage. Interceptors emit various sounds and colours, which may be a form of communication.
A symbol is visible above each Intercept's cockpit. Although the meanings of these symbols or lexigrams are unknown, numerous configurations have been documented, and it is believed that each configuration may denote a specific role that the ship serves or a division within the Thargoid hierarchy to which it belongs. Basilisk Variant Interceptors display multiple symbol features which are absent from Cyclops Variants.
Close-up inspection of the Interceptor's cockpit shows two circular, hatch-like apertures inside, but no pilot or control panel is visible. No escape pods are ever found among Interceptor wreckage either. It is possible that Interceptors are remotely-piloted or even autonomous, and their organic design implies that if this is the case, they may be engineered organisms that were created by the Thargoids.
Until September 26, 3303, very little was known about the capabilities of Thargoid Interceptors. The ships have since demonstrated an array of formidable weaponry and defenses. When approached too closely, an Interceptor will emit a dark red glow and deploy a swarm of Thargon drones. Firing on an Interceptor causes the Thargoid to immediately return fire by sending the Thargons after its attacker. While the Thargons are extremely fast and fire projectiles that penetrate shields and directly damage the hull, the Interceptor itself will also fire fast and seemingly unavoidable red projectiles.
The projectiles from the main cannon of the interceptor can be avoided by keeping to a low temperature (below 20% of your ship's heat capacity), and moving with great relative velocity to the interceptor. This will cause it to shoot where you were, instead of where you are going to be, dramatically reducing its accuracy. (Not very effective against the swarm's weaponry)
After one of an Interceptor's Thargoid Hearts is destroyed, the Interceptor will respond by unleashing a powerful secondary attack in the form of lightning-like energy beams (after the first heart), Caustic Missiles (after every heart other than the first one), and a Shutdown Field (after the second-to-last heart) which will completely shut your ship's systems down. The lightning attack is preceded by flashing yellow lights on the ship's hull and has very short range, allowing it to be avoided by skillful piloting. This weapon inflicts massive absolute shield damage, causes random module malfunction, and disrupts Thrusters. The caustic missiles fly slowly, which means they can be easily outrun (with a ship that can boost faster than 350m/s). The Shutdown Field has an effective range of 10km when activated, but a Shutdown Field Neutralizer can be used to protect your ship from it.
After each heart the interceptor will also emit a protective shield around itself, and launch a new swarm (if the existing one was destroyed), or bank a swarm (up to one can be banked at a time) for immediate release upon the destruction of the existing one. The protective shield decays over time, taking 2 minutes to decay for the cyclops, and 3, 4, and 5 minutes for Basilisk, Medusa, and Hydra respectively. When destroyed, all Thargoid Interceptors produce a large, corrosive cloud which can severely damage the shields and hull of any ship that passes through it.
Hostile Interceptors will also give chase to any CMDRs trying to flee. The high top-speed of interceptors combined with their huge mass-lock factor makes escaping them difficult.
All variants of Interceptors display an additional defensive behavior. If a Heart is not destroyed within seven minutes, the ship will enter an "enraged" state that dramatically increases its lethality. It will instantly respawn its Thargon Swarms, and the entire swarm will convert into kamikaze missiles, obliterating even very tough ships.
Interdiction and Jumping
The Interceptors also have the ability to interdict human ships traveling through hyperspace: Commanders experiencing an interdiction are alerted by their ships that their hyperspace conduit has become unstable shortly before dropping out of hyperspace due to a Frame Shift Drive malfunction. All ship systems and controls with the exception of Life Support are disabled by the interdiction, similar to the effect produced by scanning Thargoid Probes, but with a longer duration.
Thargoid Interceptors are known to have scanners of some kind which they utilize on those whom they interdict, as well as jump drives that leave a hitherto undocumented wake signature. While the wake signature can be scanned, it is unidentifiable, currently making impossible to pursue an Interceptor; attempting to charge the FSD with this signature as the destination results in another FSD malfunction.
The Interceptor can create a stable wormhole to hyperspace. A green beam extends forward which opens up space to jump through. The Interceptor's wings fold just before the jump. Human ships are repelled by an unknown force when trying to enter the wormhole.
Following the introduction of Aegis-developed countermeasures, the AX Missile Rack and AX Xeno Scanner, on September 28, 3303, the first reports emerged of CMDRs successfully destroying Thargoid Interceptors. Although Interceptors are either highly damage-resistant or outright impervious to conventional weaponry, specially-calibrated AX Missiles have proven capable of harming them. Hybrid Guardian-Human weapons developed by Ram Tah have proven to be significantly more effective at combating the Thargoids, rendering Aegis' AX weapons obsolete.
Likewise, the AX Xeno Scanner provided a wealth of new data on Interceptors. The vessels can gradually regenerate any external damage but possess "Hearts" that serve as an organic analogue to shipboard subsystems. These Thargoid Hearts can only be targeted once the ship has been active-scanned by the AX Xeno Scanner. Cyclops Variants have four hearts, Basilisk Variants have five, Medusa Variants have six and Hydra Variants have eight.
When an Interceptor suffers hull damage, it uses one of its Hearts to regenerate, after which the Heart enters an "Exerted" state and can be destroyed. Every Heart lost reduces the Interceptor's hull by 20%. After all hearts have been destroyed, the Interceptor will cease to regenerate. Thargoid Hearts can be salvaged from destroyed Interceptors.
All Aegis-developed weapons and devices serve specialized roles in combating Thargoid Interceptors. The AX Xeno Scanner is necessary to identify and target an Interceptor's four Hearts. The AX Missile Racks should be used to damage the Interceptor's hull and trigger the Hearts' exerted state. The AX Multi-cannon is best suited for destroying the Hearts after they are exerted. The Remote Release Flak Launcher is highly effective at eliminating Thargon Swarms. Lastly, the Shutdown Field Neutraliser counters the effects of the Interceptor's disabling pulse. The Meta Alloy Hull Reinforcement can be installed to add resistance against an Interceptor's caustic missiles.
Hybrid Guardian technology is also highly effective in combat against Thargoid vessels. The Guardian Gauss Cannon, Guardian Plasma Charger, and Guardian Shard Cannon weapon modules can make quick work of lesser Interceptor variants, and are the only ones which can actually damage the more powerful variants. In addition, the XG7 Trident, XG8 Javelin, and XG9 Lance Ship-Launched Fighters are equipped with Guardian weaponry of their own. In terms of defensive modules, the Guardian Hull Reinforcement Package boosts a ship's resistance to caustic damage, and the Guardian Module Reinforcement Package adds resistance against forced module reboots caused by an Interceptor's lightning attack.
|Pleiades Sector OI-T C3-8||Cyclops||Jan. 5, 3303||First ever encounter of a Thargoid Interceptor by Commander DP Sayre; Video, PC Gamer interview|
|Aries Dark Region ON-T C3-10||Cyclops||Jan. 6, 3303||Video|
|Pleiades Sector WK-N B7-2||Cyclops||Jan. 6, 3303||Video|
|Pleiades Sector WO-A C1||Cyclops||Jan. 6 3303||Video|
|Pleiades Sector DR-M B7-0||Cyclops||Jan. 6, 3303||Video|
|Electra||Basilisk||Nov. 13, 3303||First encounter of a Basilisk Variant Thargoid Interceptor by CMDR Factabulous|
|HR 1185||Basilisk||Nov. 15, 3303||Two Basilisks near a destroyed Majestic Class Interdictor, found by CMDR Okzide|
|HIP 16753||Medusa||December 14, 3303||One of the first encounters of a Medusa Variant by CMDR Cookie Jarviz|
|LHS 283||Hydra||August 28, 3304||First encounter of a Hydra Variant by CMDR Dundux|
|Maia||Orthrus||August 25, 3305||First encounter of an Orthrus Variant by CMDR Mad King Hastur|
- Hyperdiction encounters were originally limited to an undefined area around the Pleiades Nebula that extended at least as far as 235 ly away from Merope. Systems experiencing an Incursion can also trigger hyperdictions when jumping to or from them, and most recently, the Witch Head Nebula became a second major hub of Thargoid activity.
- If not equipped with an AX Xeno Scanner, a basic scan by targeting the ship will provide Unknown Ship Signature encoded data, while scanning the ship's wake will provide Unknown Wake Data. Both of these will appear in your ship's data list, though they do not appear to have Engineering applications at this time.
- The shutdown effect of the hyperdiction appears to go much further than that of the Thargoid Probe. In addition to shutting down modules and the HUD, all non-functional instruments in the cockpit switch off, including the illuminated keyboard in the Sidewinder MkI, the core monitors on the Diamondback Scout and all lights and holographic displays in the Imperial Cutter. Despite this, Life Support does not appear to be affected.
- Beginning with update 2.3 (and originally seen in the 2.3 beta), Thargoid Interceptors can be encountered through certain distress call missions. Upon dropping out of supercruise at the source of the distress call, the player arrives in a green, gaseous cloud and their ship is disabled. Multiple Federal Corvette wrecks, bearing luminescent green residue where they are damaged and with their crews apparently dead, are adrift in the cloud, and a single Unknown Ship can be seen jumping away. Presumably, the Interceptor destroyed all of the Corvettes on its own. A black box canister, the objective of the mission, can be salvaged from the wreckage.
- With Elite Dangerous: Horizons The Return (2.4), Thargoid Interceptors can be found picking up various items from Non-Human Signal Sources. These items include Thargoid Sensors, Thargoid Probes, Meta-Alloys, and Damaged Escape Pods.
- Galactic News: Federal Capital Ship Destroyed by Thargoids
- Galactic News: Speculation over Thargoid Ship -14 October 3303
- YouTube: They're Here...
- Galactic News: The Thargoids have Returned
- Galactic News: Further Thargoid Attacks
- Galactic News: Previously Unseen Thargoid Ships in Electra
- /r/EliteDangerous: Threat 6 USS in Electra
- YouTube: Commander Chronicles: Devastation - Elite Dangerous
- /r/EliteDangerous: So the Thargoids(?) Attacked a Station. Images Courtesy of CMDR Bad_Player - Comment by ChristianM
- Thargoid Medusa Tissue Sample
- Galactic News: More Starports Attacked
- r/EliteDangerous: New thargoid interceptors (Threat 9)
- XboxDVR: NEW INTERCEPTOR - HYDRA CONFIRMED
- GalNet: New Thargoid Interceptor Encountered
- GalNet: Gnosis Stranded
- r/EliteDangerous: NEW THARGOID!
- Frontier Forums: Thargoid Attacks: Where, When and What you can do about it, post #2496 & 2497
- YouTube: Elite: Dangerous - Orthrus Thargoid Concept Art - Concept art of the Orthrus revealed by Frontier Developments identifies it as a "Seed Interceptor".
- r/EliteDangerous: had to run but what the HELL WAS THAT ATTACK? ripped through my shields like butter.
- r/EliteDangerous: Aw crap
- /r/EliteDangerous: Some tips for the new Thargoids by PrimeNine, a developer.
- r/EliteDangerous: Elite: Dangerous: Another INRA Base Found, Linked To Hyperdrive Research
- Elite Dangerous Forums: Plotting Alien Ship Pulls - Need Your Help Commanders!
- /r/EliteDangerous: Unknown Ships have breached the UA Shell! Just got interdicted 215LY from Merope!
|Lore & Concepts||
|Ships marked with H can only be purchased and operated by players who own Horizons.|
The Cobra MkIV is only available to players who preordered Horizons.