Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pillow Talk

When I looked up again from my data pad, it had turned night, meaning that the automatic lighting system of the station had dimmed all auxiliary lights. My data pad was a candle in the darkness of my private quarters, barely illuminating the cup of (now cold) tea standing within arm's reach on my desk. I got up and stretched, limbs somewhat stiff from sitting at this desk for the last couple of hours, ergonomics or not.

There were a few more things I needed to go over, but I could do that as easily from my bed, in much more comfort. It was rare that I got to spend significant time ‘home’, and I aimed to enjoy it.

Gathering both the pad and the cup from the desk, I briefly considered making some fresh tea - but decided against it. Cool and spicy was just right that moment.

Unceremoniously I discarded my clothing where I stood, hopped into the bed - a Real Bed! - and boxed the pillows and blanket into the perfect shape - only to be interrupted by a furtive knock from the door.

Strange - usually people would either knock strongly, or just page me on intercom. But, as I couldn’t hear weapons fire, it was probably safe.

“Come in!”

Triggered by my voice, the door lock disengaged, the door opened partially, and a black-haired woman peered inside.

“May I come in?”

I relaxed. “Sure!”

“Thanks!” The door opened fully to allow Eta entrance. She made her way through to dark room, door automatically locking again, and sat down on the foot end of my bed.

“I couldn’t sleep, and needed somebody to talk,” she said almost apologetically, “but I didn’t know if you were ... well, busy... being back home for once, and all that.”

I chuckled. “Busy is right, but sadly the other kind.” I waved my pad. “Roster cleanup.”

“Oh, ...who did we lose?”

I leaned back and looked at the ceiling. “Brad and Liza - they’re planetside for the near future. And Unholy vaped, again. And we’re going to lose our WH crew to the Bunnies - but that was my idea. Can you believe that: they actually miss WH life; something we can’t support at the moment. But...” I winked at Eta. “...they are only on loan.”

I sat up again. “But that’s not what you wanted to talk about. What’s bugging you?”

“Well,” she shifted uncomfortably, “you remember that I thought of doing some market speculation?” I nodded, and she continued. “It sounded so easy in my head: ride the mineral wave in the market, use my reaction fund to buy them low and then hold on to them until the new DED regulations kick in next month. So I did that - to the tune of 2B.”

I whistled through my teeth - that was most of her liquid capital.

“Exactly my thought when I ran the tally.” She looked at me. “And frankly, I’m scared. Scared that I bit off more that I can chew.”

I must have looked surprised, because she added: “No, really!”

“But...”, I tried to put my thoughts into words, “when you ran your reactions you routinely moved billions worth of stuff around - through lo-sec and in tin-cans no less. And you also had the market exposure!”

“Yes, but this - is different.” I recognized the tone - it didn’t happen often, but every once in a while even my independent sister needed somebody to lean against, but didn’t know how to express it.

I held out my arms. “Come here.”

She moved up into my embrace, and rested her head on my shoulder.

“When I ran my reactions, I could control most variables: Covert transports. Scouts. Backup reactions to cover a market slump. The market for the materials was sorta predictable. And I knew what I was doing. But this - ”, she gestured into the air, “is mostly out of my hands. And the market mavens are probably laughing at my rookie attempts.”

“What did you do?”

“Going in, I knew that have neither the patience nor the experience to play the Buy order-shuffle, so I figured I get the minerals on the cheap by buying up all those Sell orders which happen to be below the main hub’s Buy orders.”

“The ones where people don’t want to or can’t move the goods themselves?”

“Precisely. But what I underestimated was how much of the minerals are offered that way - I reached my financial pain threshold in just two days. ...aaand at the same time the prices started to flatten out, some even dropping.”

She sighed. “I knew up front that this would be a long term deal, that I would have to ride out a few intermediate drops - but it doesn’t make it any less scary. And I can only watch!”

“Shhh”, I gently caressed her hair. “It’s scary because it’s new and you’re pushing out of your comfort zone - something I have a hard time doing. I admire that. And if this fails - well, you bootstrapped yourself once.”

“You helped, with a generous loan!”

“Which you paid back in full, so shush!”

“You’re probably right.” Her voice still betrayed doubt, but I could feel her relax. “Still, until I get used to this, I have to make sure I don’t make mistakes through pre-occupation. Like the two last night.”

“Whatever they were, they can’t have been that bad.” I tried to keep my voice playful. “We haven’t been war-decced, yet.”

“One was really stupid: I needed to buy 10k units of Sulfuric Acid for our corp reaction, but accidentally bought 100k. Classic rookie mistake - the only saving grace is that the projected revenue should cover the extra expense, so we can take the profit hit right away, and the corp gets 90k units Acid for free.”

She fell silent, and after a short moment I felt it prudent to nudge. “You mentioned two mistakes?”

“The other one...”, she squirmed uncomfortably, “I figured, since I’m gambling anyway, on the market, I could use some of my funds and play SOMER.blink. At first it was just to participate in their anniversary promotion, but I think I got carried away a bit.”

SOMER.blink - that name sounded familiar. I used my free hand to look them up on my data pad.

“Ah, the lottery operation.”

She nodded into my chest. “And a pretty slick one. If you’re easily excitable, they make it really easy to lose your ISK. Couple hundred million - poof!”

“You won a Thanatos.”

It took a few seconds for my words to register, then Eta sat up in shock.

“You’re fracking shitting me!”

As answer, I held out the pad towards her. She snatched it from my hand, and double- and triple-checked it.

“I’ll be damned ... Awesome!”

I gently rescued my pad from her hands before she could get any strange ideas, like framing it. “See, beginner’s luck does still exist. Just be sure to quit while you’re ahead!”

“Damn skippy!” I almost smiled - the rapidity of her bouncing back to her normal self was always astounding. “Let’s see - they offer to pay out the value of the price in cash, but considering that capitals will only get more expensive, I’d be stupid not to take the ship. Except...”

“You can’t fly it?”

“Nope. Can you?”


“Then this might be iffy.”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Art of Delegation

[ So, there you have it - my plan, in all of its details. ]

If I hadn’t know better, I’d have submitted my sister for lock-up, on account of acute madness. She had a good thing going with her reactions, only now to pour most of her savings into a market speculation scheme?!

But nonetheless, she had the better market acumen between the two of us, and in the end, it might just work!

...long shot, ok, but also it was her funds, so who was I to argue?

“Very well. Tell you what: let me get over to Khanid Kingdom, check out the prices. ... after all, there’s not much else to do right now.”

[ I’d say “Thanks!”, but... did you pay attention to alliance comms? ]

“Somewhat, why do you ask?”

[ Just take a look at the last five minutes...]

While the gesture was futile as such, I did raise an eyebrow inside of my pod. And called up comms history.

[[ I have the two Hurricanes and the Blackbird on scan. ]] That was Calcinus.

[[ What are you in? ]] Holden.

[[ Oracle. ]] Calcinus again.

[[ Hey, hey, what’s going on? ]] Orin, who probably just joined comms.

I switched back to comms with Eta.

“Thanks! I just have to put my share of laser fire in there.”

[ That’s why I mentioned it - I know your secret desires! ]

I couldn’t help but to grin - she knew me right to the bone. At the same time, I switched comms back again to the alliance channel.

[ Druur here. I’m coming in with a CovOps to help, just in case. ]

And just when I said that, I realized that for some reason I didn’t have Combat Probes in my hold. Oh well, nothing like a quick purchase could rectify?

... well, only if I’d actually remember to pick up the probes I purchased.

While I would make it to the target system in time, without probes my contribution would be limited to: “The targets are more than 10Bm away from the gate. I’ll have to head back to get my Combat Probes.” This obviously wouldn’t do.

Wait, wasn’t there a corporation I was supposedly in charge off? Cal was already engaged, but there were more, right? Like, Keilidh,who had jacked in just a few minutes ago.

“K, do you have a combat scanning ship available?”

[ Oh, uh. Yea, I have a ‘Thema - You understand that I’m BAD at this, right? ]

“Bad is better than nothing! We need combat scanning Next Door - you’re looking for two Hurricane’s and a Blackbird. Orin’s FC.”

[ Ok. ]

And with that, it was out of my hands. While I was still making best speed to bring my own combat probes to bear, I was under no illusion that I would have any influence of the outcome of the engagement. All I could do was listening to comms.

[[ They’re jumping belts. Everybody, align planet VI. ]]

[[ I have a near-hit near planet VI, stand by. ]]

[[ CovOps - Keilidh, right? - let us know when you have a hit. ]]

[[ Hit - warping to it. ]]

[[ Everybody, hold on - when you land, point the ‘Canes, but shoot the Blackbird. ]]

[[ On grid with targets. ]]

[[ Warp to CovOps - Now Now Now! Point on Canes, shoot the Blackbird. ]]


[[ Blackbird is in structure. ]]

[[ Blackbird dead - Hurricane in structure. ]]

[[ Hurricane dead - second Hurricane warped off. ]]

[[ Good job - everybody get to a safe. Thanks for the scouting! ]]

Inside my pod, and still a number of jumps away from home, I couldn’t help but smile.

“Well done!”, I sent out over corp comms.

[ Yes. ] Calcinus, never one to waste words.

[ Yay! ] , responded Keilidh, [ Having a good idea where they were helps a lot, though. ]

“Still, as far as I’m concerned, combat-scanning/scouting is harder than doing damage. Getting the warp-in was essential.”

[ Yeah. ] Calcinus again.

Fear the industrialists with teeth!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Things ISK can't buy


This evening had definitely not gone as planned.

All I had wanted to do was staging a few ships Next Door, when on the last trip I noticed a neutral Hurricane on d-scan. And having nothing else to do, I’d thought I hop into my trusty Purifier and see how close I’d get to the Hurricane’s location before he’d smarten up to me.

Feeling unusually social, I chatted away on Alliance comms while diddling away with d-scan angles and distances, when suddenly I found myself in a fleet with three Alliance members lusting for pod juice, and asking if I could given them a warp-in.

Dudes, I had just narrowed down his likely location to a Cosmic Anomaly, let me warp there first to take a look!

The Hurricane indeed had been in that anomaly, blissfully unaware of the storm clouds on the other side of the system gate. As I had warped in at distance, I bid my fellow Allies members for patience: let him trigger the next wave first.

Once the next rat wave arrived, I bookmarked one of the wrecks near the Hurricane and bounced off a safe spot to get close to him. It was a gamble, as there were a decent number of wrecks, dust clouds and asteroids just salivating to uncloak me.

The fleet boss had asked to give notice once I got to within 10 klicks of the target - I thought of doing better by putting the target between me and the gate, but in the hurry of the moment failed to do so. Plan B then had been to sneak up on to the Hurricane to give my fleet a warp-in at their optimals, but the playing out its superior speed, the Hurricane actually pulled away from me.

Not that it mattered: having heard my 10km announcement, the fleet had entered a system. First on the grid was the Oracle, throwing out point and laser fire at the hapless Hurricane. The others followed soon after, and I dropped my cloak and settled into a tight orbit to lob a few torpedoes of my own - our diplomats liked to show off a positive kill statistic. ... or at least two kills in a year.

The execution - it could hardly be called a fight - was not much to brag about, as the Hurricane didn’t stand a chance. However, the happy feeling I took away from knowing that I didn’t fully mess up the scouting...

...that was priceless.