Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Ending

“This is the last of it?”

Watching from Eta’s hangar balcony, I had a good view of the loading operations for her freighter. There still was a sizeable stack of containers of various sizes, but the dock crew was making swift work of loading them, and more importantly, the stack was no longer being replenished with new containers from our corporate hangars.

Standing next to me, she just nodded confirmation, checking off items on her data pad. Unperturbed, I continued.

“I am not sure I fully understand - I thought you loved playing with your reactors? Why this sudden change of heart?”

She tapped a few more times on her padd, then put it down onto the balcony railing.

“Well, it wasn’t exactly sudden,” she answered after a few moments of watching the dance of crew, waldos and containers. “It has been getting stale for a while now - not the reactions as such, but the endless travels to and from Jita.” She sighed. “I wish I enjoyed trading as much as producing.”

She gave me a sideways glance. “Add to that the commute to our home system, to take care of our Corp reaction POS, and suddenly I spent most of my time moving haulers around.

”So, I thought, time to take a break. Do something else for a while.“

I could empathize with her, having been in that situation more than once myself.

”Any concrete ideas yet?“

”Sleep for a week once this stuff is moved?“ She grinned. ”Actually, I don’t know yet. Maybe I go mining for a while - I still want to build this Moros, just because - or just exploring. Maybe hook up with Heloisa for a while. As long as it’s in general closer to home, to you guys.“

A mischievous wink.

”Of course, I get might get really bored, and simply put up my towers again in our home system - war-dec risk be damned.“

”Can’t live without your daily dose of radiation, eh?“


Down in the hangar, the stack of containers had magically vanished, and the crew was closing the loading hatches on the gigantic hull of the Obelisk.

”Looks like your ride is ready.“

”Mhm, hm - I better get podded up.“ She straightened up, then hesitated. ”I admit, it feels weird leaving this place after almost two years.“

”I know.“

As she still didn’t move, I waved her on. ”Go on, I’ll follow once I took care of the paperwork for terminating the office lease.

“CEO being the last woman off the station, and all that.”

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Career Advice



Boring boring boring boring.

Yet necessary.

The large remote hull repairers cycled, adding another sliver of structure to our WH POS, and the real-time link with Lance confirmed that no new signatures - wormholes or ships - had shown up. Not that this gave us perfect safety, as a good scout could enter the system and cloak up before we’d notice, but at least we’d be safe from wannabes. Plus, the active combat probe did deter random gawkers.

Of course, it would have been nicer if I had had support from the Alliance as planned, but with our latest war-dec the POS repair had dropped in priority. On a logical level I agreed with Alliance leadership, but that didn’t help making the hours repairing go any faster.

A small point of light started blinking in my simulated field of vision - somebody sent me a mail! Yay!! Eagerly I opened it.

Hey D!

I came across this new DED information service - thanks to Shalee Lianne (don’t ask) - and while it seems to be targeted at new capsuleers, I thought that maybe it could provide you with some amusement.

When will you be back?

-- M

When indeed?

I pushed that question firmly to the back of my mind, and opened a link to the DED information service. The connection was slow, but given my current location, any connection was a win.

Hmm... an aptitude test, presumably to help new pilots find their line of career. Let’s see...

‘What interests you most?’ The clash of arms and ideology, obviously - wealth and knowledge are just tools.

I grinned: Eta would vehemently disagree.

‘What is most important in battle?’ Pilot skill and initiative. No plan survives the contact with the enemy, so when (not if!) the chain of command gets taken out, the individual pilot’s skills will make or break the day.

‘What do you fight for?’ Wealth and power; if only for the lack for just cause.

‘Do you respect the laws of space?’ Heck, yeah! Where’d we be if pirates could go rampant?

The DED site churned a millisecond over my answers, and presented me with their suggestions.

Bounty Hunter. Alternatively, Pirate, or Freedom Fighter.

I looked at the POS floating in space ahead of me, its structure now hovering at 87%, and for the second time this year all I could think of was

“What The Frack?”

Monday, March 5, 2012

In The Red

I had been pussyfooting around this task for a week now, but I knew that in the long run there was no escape: if not now, it would catch up with me next month. Well then... Time to Balance the Finances!

A few key presses, and the terminal pulled up this month’s wallet summary. For the most part, it was business as usual: we built stuff, sold it, and used the majority of the revenue to buy POS fuel. Sometimes we even had some ISK left to put into our savings account. We weren’t rich, but it was a living.

However, this past month had not been just business as usual - as the angry red numbers in e-Ledger proved. Mostly in the category ‘Ship Losses’.

First, there had been my Zealot down in 0.0. Granted, that had been a personal loss, but it had been against a Sansha force - simple minded, but with superior numbers. In hindsight I should have turned tail right away.

Next one up, a passive-armor fit Pulse-Apoc, shredded to bits by the laser batteries of a POS next door. Even now I winced at the memory: it had been late at night, and a local operation had ended somewhat in disarray (for good reasons, as we learned later); and two somewhat hotheaded corp members got the idea into their heads to attack that nearby POS with their capitals. Without support. I thought they had a plan, them being the experienced cap pilots.

Yes, yes, I shouldn’t have tagged along, not even out of some sense of misguided loyalty - but that realization came too late. At least I only lost an Apoc (ok, and a Purifier due to bad piloting) - while they lost both their caps. Getting back on Alliance comms the next day was not a nice experience...

Neither pilot was no longer with us - not really because of the ship losses, but primarily because these events had revealed a general mismatch in expectations. But the price for an amicable separation had been a POS swap, and the wallet got hit with the bill for a large amount of fuel ingredients.

And to top it all off, I lost another Purifier last week, when I forgot that shooting someone’s POS gives you a GCC, and that having a GCC means that station guns shoot you.

Don’t they know I am one of the Good Ones?!

Live and learn, and all that, I guess.

A few more inputs, and the balance sheet evaluated into its final tally. Lower than I wished to see, but there was no sense in denying reality. Guess the corp would have to live with a higher tax rate for a month or two.

Just as I submitted the balance sheet into the depth of the corp’s computer system, the comm system demanded attention - incoming transmission from our WH operation.

“Howdy Lance, how’s it going?”

[ Pretty good, boss - except that somebody’s shooting our POS. ]

“I saw the notifications, but it appeared that they were only the usual bored fly-bys. You know - shoot the POS for an hour, only to realize that they’d never make headway before their exit collapses.”

[ Well, this group is more organized - they brought four Dominixes. The reason you got only one notification is because they didn’t pay attention to their scanners, and got wiped out by a roaming gang. ]

I got a bad feeling. “But....?”

[ ...but now they’re back - Vexors, mostly, and drones: Sentries and Heavies. ] Lance’s drawl deepened. [ I’m afraid they mean business, boss. ]

I thought about that for a second: this situation was anything but unexpected - in fact I was surprised that it hadn’t happened sooner. But nonetheless, it was an inopportune time - as Lance knew as well.

“Ok, I’ll grab my bomber and come out - let’s see what we can do.”

[ Ack. I’ll get you the entrance. Lance out! ]

I hesitated a moment, then got up and headed towards the docking area. This was not a promising start into the next month.

Project Status: Terminated

I took a drink from my glass, and shook my head to clear it up.

"Now, where were we?"

The Caldari looked at me over the top of his glass, with a sly smile.

“I don’t where you were just now,” he replied, “but I was busy admiring your eyes while you were telling me about your latest adventures. They’re cute, you know?”, he added.

I almost laughed into my drink when my brain fully processed what my ears had just heard.

Here we were, in a definitely “less sterile” bar, surrounded by the rougher sorts of pilots - heck, there was a fistfight going on right now! - and he is complimenting me on my eyes?

I cocked my head: “You are a strange person, indeed, to come up with something like that!”

He leaned back. “Well, did it work?” Again this smile!

*Play it cool!* I reminded myself.

I rested the elbows on the table, rested my chin on my steepled fingers, and gave him an mysterious look. ... well, at least I hoped it was mysterious, not having had any practice in quite a while.

“Well, I could think of a thing or two to help us find out...”

He never got a chance to answer, as suddenly something very loud was screeching into my ear. Out of the corners of my eyes I saw that one of the ‘waitresses’ had come up to our table and was blowing a whistle right next to my head. I had the brief impression of red hair, but before I could turn, the bar vanished, only to be replaced by the virtual images of my Purifier’s command system. And shrilling in my ear was the thing which had interrupted my dream: a priority message on comms.

Damn, not again!

Groggily I engaged my cloaking device as my ship performed its automatic warp - I definitely hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before. Damn WHs and their inconveniently timed connections!

My ship must have sensed my physiological state, as I suddenly felt the tingle of a stimulant enter my veins through the umbilicals. Slightly more effective than caffeine, but not quite as satisfying.

As soon as I felt somewhat coherent, I opened comms - it was our Alliance boss Tavi.

[ Hey Druur, do you have a minute to talk about the mails you sent the last days? ]

"Of course!" I had been meaning to talk to him directly for days, but our schedules simply hadn’t matched up.

[ The question I have is, what do you have in mind? I mean, there is a lot of good intel in them, but I am not clear about what you expect us to do with it.]


Now, that was the question, wasn't it? I had been struggling with it, more or less subconsciously all the last days, ever since the first attack notification from our WH POS came in. And it wasn't just that I was still reluctant to ask for Alliance resources for what was essentially a small corp operation - the tail wagging the slaver hound, so to speak - especially in sight of last month's derps. No, the real problem was deeper.

On the one hand, this Cl.3 WH was very rich in PI resources, and happened to be in a dead end of w-space - the main reasons for our continued presence. And to just roll over and retreat without even a token defense? Plus, undeniably, it was the last holdover of our good Last Stand times. ...I know, I know, CEOs shouldn't be "sentimental oafs" as a friend recently put it, but still.

On the other hand, the operation had increasingly become untenable with a long supply line, and the very few folks which had stuck it out had become increasingly grumpy. Even our POS was just a stripped-down shell of its former self, onlined only when needed and essentially considered 'lost', with the bulk of the operation based mainly out of an cloaked Orca.

And this Orca wasn't even in the WH anymore: when last night we discovered one our rare hi-sec connections, I had made the gut-decision to pull it out. Which essentially decided the situation, even if my rational thinking was just now catching up.

A polite cough on comms reminded me that I maybe should continue the conversation.

"...right. The reason was that I didn't know myself exactly where to go with it, or what would be the best course of action." I hung my head in the darkness of my pod. "I probably should have made that clearer.

"However, considering that the attackers built up their own POS over the last couple of days, and replaced all Custom’s Offices, I don't think we can hold the system."

[ That is my evaluation as well. While I'd be happy shoot up their Vexor gangs, since they're attacking an Alliance member, they only would come back. Tell you what, I'll have our diplomat contact them and see if we can negotiation a truce, so that we can repair the POS and unanchor it.]

"That'd be great! While financially the POS was always considered a loss, it'd be nice to salvage some of it."

[ Of course, they might not agree, but it won't hurt asking. And if they double-cross us... well...]

"Plan B." I grinned.

[ Right. Ok, I need to run - fly safe! ]

"You, too - and: Thanks!"

The connection closed, and I felt a weight dropping of my shoulder. It is never enjoyable to terminate a project which had started out with such great hopes and energy - but if I were honest with myself, I was relieved to no longer having to worry about it.