The Slylandro purchased their first Probe from the Melnorme for exploration purposes, with the intent to use them for making peaceful contact with other races. Since it had the ability to replicate itself, they modified its program code so that replication became its overriding first priority.
The repercussions of this foolhardy action were grave. Not only were there probes that attempted to break friendly ships into component pieces for use in replication, but they multiplied at an exponential rate, becoming a servere hazard to any hyperSpace traveler.
The Captain put a stop to this when he made contact with the Slylandro. When they learned what had happened, they gave The Captain a code that would cause probes to self-destruct in case he encountered one, and began reprogramming all returning probes to roam the quadrant broadcasting the self-destruct code on a HyperWave hailing frequency, which caused a swift decline in their numbers (to everyone's great relief).
Unlike any other ship, the probe is always in motion. Pressing the thruster immediately reverses the Probe's direction. The control scheme is tricky to learn, but the advantages of having such a nimble ship should not be overlooked.
When attacking, the Probe discharges several bolts of lightning directed at its target. The lightning is very short-ranged, which makes for a difficult learning curve when coupled with the Probe's unorthodox controls.
Unlike most vessels, the probe does not generate its own fuel. Instead, it uses its secondary armament to break down nearby asteroids into raw materials which it then feeds into its combat batteries. One asteroid contains enough raw materials to completely replenish a probe's fuel reserves.
Given the difficulty in mastering the controls, not a lot of players have spent the time researching good tactics for this ship. The primary fighting technique employed by pilots of this ship seems to be: close in, evade incoming fire, empty the combat batteries, then zip off to find an asteroid in order to replenish the batteries. Repeat.
The Probe's internal set of instructions is replicated here:
SCAN (for targets, as defined in Target List). IF (no current target). THEN (select New target from Current Targets list, using specified priorities). IF (Current Position is AT Current Target). THEN (Set Current Behavior to New Behavior, based on Behavior Priority Settings). PERFORM (Current Behavior).
The Probe used the following datatables:
TARGET LIST (with associated Target Priority). Space Vessel (5). Transmission Source (4). Astronomical Anomaly (3). Planet Bearing Life Signature (2). Raw Replication Materials (1). PROBE BEHAVIORS (With assigned priorities). Communicate (5). Record Data (4). Analyze Data (3). Seek Replication Materials (999). Move to Current Target (1).
It was the skewed priority of the 'Seek Replication Materials' behavior that led to the Probe's unnatural hostility.