Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Valid Question


As the number display in the elevator counted down towards my destination, I used the privacy of the cabin to unceremoniously slump against the back wall: it had been another long day of ferrying stuff between the stars, and taming capricious agents who by corporate rule didn’t bother with little details like industrials not exactly being the best ships to send out mining.


A melodious *ding* announced the arrival at my destination, and I exited onto the quarters level of the Creodron Factory station in Ghesis. And this weren’t just the transient capsuleer quarters, No Sir! - the even more posh Guest Quarters it was! Plush carpet, original paintings at the wall, discreet security, an open bar at the corner - and this was just the hallway!

Good to see that the last weeks of endless missions had been good for something tangible.

Reaching the entrance to my actual quarters, I unlocked the door and triggered the opening mechanism - and stopped in the entrance. Where there should have been a dark and quiet room, I saw light and heard music. Pre-capsuleer instincts tried to draw a sidearm I no longer carried, while the post-capsuleer brain took inventory of the situation.

A wet towel on the floor, the computer display showing market graphs, Amarrian synth-punk on the sound system, and, hanging over the side of a high-backed chair, a pair of slender naked feet, bobbing with the beat. This meant....

“Hi Sis!” Eta’s red-haired head peeked over the back of said chair. “You live!”

“Of course I live!” Letting the door shut behind me, I entered the room, and slumped down on a couch. “Why shouldn’t I?”

Eta swiveled her chair to face me. “Well, rumor had it that you left our WH months ago, but nobody had seen you.”

“’s not true!”, I protested. “I am on comms every day!”

“You were,” admitted Eta, “or somebody sounding very much like you. But what _are_ you doing?”

I rubbed my eyes. “Earning standings, in case we need to anchor new hi-sec POSes. Plus, it's never a good idea to give Gallente itchy trigger fingers, undisciplined heathens they are."

Eta thought about that, then nodded. “Makes sense. Well, in that case I have something to cheer you up. Catch!”

She tossed a small object at me, which I managed to catch solely on account of my chest being square its trajectory. It was a credit chip.

Seeing my slightly puzzled look, she elaborated. “ISK. Your share from my Nanotransistors batch.”

“Your Nanotransistors... but I thought that batch finished two months ago?”

“I’m glad you ask!”, smiled Eta. “Remember my Fermionic Condensates batch?”

Oh, the Fermionic Condensates - who could forget! For days we walked carefully around Eta and avoided any mention of markets, reactions, or, for that matter, POSes. After losing a good 500M on that particular batch, she was even considering giving up reactions altogether; but eventually settled on just reducing her operation. By eliminating the fuel cost for one reaction POS, she was more or less able to compensate for the loss - or so she claimed.

"Well, after that debacle, I started a batch of Nanotransistors. But guess what!"

I had an inkling where this was going: "The market crashed?"

Eta nodded, "The market tanked - again! I would have been out another 200-300M."

"But obviously" - I held up the credit chip - "you aren't."

"Nope!", she beamed. "Thanks to the powers of Market competition."

That surprised me. "I thought you stayed away from it, on account of all the high-frequency trading."

"Well, true, but it was either that, or losing even more ISK. So I started some cheap low-yield reactions to tide me over, put up a couple of sell orders, and updated them once or twice a week. And lo and behold: the market recovered and I was able to make some profit after all."

"And now you'd like to be our official Mistress of Reactors _and_ Trading?", I couldn't resist teasing.

"Gods, no!" She shuddered. "Unless really necessary, I'll happily leave that up to the others who actually enjoy it. Speaking of which..."

She leaned forward, suddenly serious.

"When will you be back, and have some fun?"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Cats and Mice

The stargate was filling the field of my vision, hovering majestically against the background of stars. And if you looked closely, you could even see the two figures in spacesuits, as they duct taped down a strut which shook loose in the last activation. On the other side of the gate, the expanse of Minmatar lo-sec beckoned. Inside it, the wormhole back to our w-space system, bubbling away towards its collapse, and Lance in his Covert Ops.
“Lance, Status?”
“Still clear.” came the instant reply. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”
Ha! As if he had to ask!

What had been a quiet system an hour ago, with just one mission runner in it, had turned into a center of popularity right after we brought our goods through to hi-sec. With all people from the SILENT. alliance, one of them having his Drake named “Stargate (Ney)”, the intentions of the locals were clear, and we already had to abort our previous attempt of bringing the Orca back in. But suddenly, a few minutes ago, the lo-sec system emptied. Completely. And all SILENT. members vanished from the neighboring hi-sec system as well. Obvious, really.
On corp comms the sounds of a corp ice mining op happening in our home constellation, providing a background of normalcy, its participants too far away to render assistance.
And, in the back of my mind, teasing, a thought: We might just be able to make it.
 “Screw it,” I announced as I initiated gate jump, “let’s do this.” Not the best line in history, nor the most coherent one, but the message came across.
“Copy that.” acknowledged Lance, “Warping to WH exit.”
My Orca emerged from the gate, and its mighty engines filled the ship with their sonorous hum as I directed the navigation systems to warp to our WH entrance.
Speed at 40% … 50% … 60% …
Local plus one! Plus two!
My Orca reached warp speed just in time for me to see a Drake land on the gate grid. Simultaneously, Lance cursed.
“Shit. A battlecruiser entered the wormhole just as I arrived.”
In my pod, I nodded solemnly.
“The game is up, and we lost. Go through and head back to the POS – I’ll follow when I can.”
“Aye aye, boss.”
With an unexpected calmness, I watched the distance to warp bubble collapse tick down, knowing that I’d emerge into certain doom. At the WH entrance, a Brutix was already waiting for me, laying down tackle before I managed to align even halfway to the next celestial. Warp core stabilizers, or ECM drones, might have been able to save me, but even then it would have been a close call  – within seconds, two Drakes arrived on grid and put even more hurt on my ship.
“Nice.” Comms garbled from the WH interference, Lance still managed to sound almost admiring. “Two were already waiting here - the Orca would have never made it.”
Escape pods darted away from my Orca’s belly, taking the crew to safety, as my Orca’s structure rapidly ceased to exist. As I warped my pod back into CONCORDs protective arms, I complimented the attackers in Local for their well executed trap, my mistakes notwithstanding. The ensuing short, but surprisingly pleasant chat revealed just how much effort SILENT had put into this trap: they had scanned out our WH entrance right when we first showed up, and then placed multiple scouts in the neighboring systems.

All this effort, just for me? Awww - that’s worth losing a fully fitted and rigged Orca!

...on second thought, maybe not.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back to the Grind

“Stupid. Stupid Stupid! STUPID!”, I cursed under my breath while giving the commands to fire up the warp drive and move the ship away from this location. Outside, another beam from a laser battery danced over my ship, taking out more large chunks of my armor.

“What? What did I do?”, asked Sio over comms - my cursing apparently had made it out after all.

“Nothing!”, I replied, wishing my ship to accelerate faster. “It’s what _I_ did!”

War, it is said, is boredom punctuated by sheer terror. Well, whoever said it obviously hadn’t had tried their hands at supplying a POS in w-space, otherwise they’d have added adjectives like ‘endless’ and ‘defenseless’ to it. Spoiled, all of them.

It had been only a few weeks since our little altercation with our lo-sec POS next door, and since then we had been living in constant anticipation of our neighbouring ‘landlords’ dropping the hammer on us. But as days passed by with nothing happening, we had to park our freshly insured PvP ships back in our hangars, and getting back to keeping the alliance humming. Specifically, resupplying our w-space POS which had been cut off for quite some time now.

Not that we were lacking for help: Sio and Keilidh were eager and able to help, so I contracted them the latest set of bookmarks and told them to come out in their haulers.

Of course I forgot that both were new to the corp and thus not accustomed to our w-space operation.

Of course I forgot to tell them that there was an occupied Cl.3 systems between ‘our’ w-space system and Empire.

Of course I forgot to tell them that some of the bookmarks were observation posts, where I’d be watching the Cl.3 POSes from my CovOps.

And definitely I had forgotten to move away from the observation warp-ins, as it is my usual custom.

As my ship reached warp speeds, away from the POS and Sio’s fateful pod, the POSes battery lit up once more, sending a last greeting my way, rocking my ship violently.

“Lance?”, I called out on comms to our resident miner. “How far are you with the Hulks?”

“I just dropped off the last one.”, came the crisp reply. “Why?”

“I need you to get your Helios and take over POS scouting for me.”. Embarrassment crept into my voice. “I need to go and get a new ship.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Look! A Rabbit Hole!

Vacations are fun!

Clear sky, natural Vitamin D, ice-cold smoking drinks, the cry of the raptors overhead... Just the thing a corporation officer needs to to forget the daily worries of a space corporation.

But the call of space is in a capsuleer’s blood, and soon the universe found me walking the corridors of our home station again. There was mail, of course, and bills, and all other minutiae, but it all paled against the feeling of a red giant’s hard radiation on your ship’s hull, and the endless darkness of space.

I was catching up with mail of the day, making note of the one or other event I needed to talk with my corp mates about, when I heard the door to the apartment cycle. A heavy ‘clunk’, the sound of boots discarded with force, and soon I had a curious Ni-Kunni peeking over my shoulder.

“What’cha doing, sis?” Eta glanced at my screen, and grimaced. “Ew, paperwork.”

“Yep,” I answered, finishing the note I was working on. “And what are you doing here - I thought you were inseparable from your reactors?”

“Well, yeah,” she pulled a chair close and made herself comfortable. “Everyone needs a break once in a while. Relax, chill, have fun, you know?”

“Hmmm...,” I frowned. “I don’t know what you consider ‘chilling’, but CONCORD considered it aggressive actions.”

“Aggressive.. oh, that!”

“Mind telling me, or do I have to cut your Quafe ration?”

“Well...”, she tried looking bashful, but not very convincingly. “You know the lo-sec system next to here?

”Last week, when we had this 20-hour wardec going on, I noticed this moon next door, empty and for the taking. Of course with the wardec I couldn’t do much, and when the war ended, some small corp had anchored a small tower there.

“So I shot it a bit.”

Eta shooting something...that meant “Your mission Drake?” She nodded happily.

“And what happened after the tower guns reduced your Drake to scrap metal?”

“It went into re-inforce.”

“It ... what?!” An dreadful feeling overcame me. “You weren’t alone, right? The General was there as well, with his Dreads, right?”

“And Ran, and the Grav guys!” she bursted out. “It took only 40 minutes. And Grav’ has popped somebody else’s tower already a week ago, to make space for their own!”

Leaning back, I idly toyed with an electric pen. “And now what?”

“Well, the tower is out of RI now, and the General says, this would be a great opportunity to anchor our own POS. Planting a tree, or something like that.”

I mustered my little sister - I had never seen her that blood-thirsty. The radiation of her reactors must have gotten to her.

Yet the idea was now planted in my brain, arguing against my natural carefulness - and quite successfully. A permanent presence in the lo-sec next door... a place and reason for the alliance to rally around.

“You know that a 0-sec corp is drawing rent from that very system, right?”, I asked.


“And that they won’t like us planting towers there?”


“And that they could wipe us out in a week if they put not even half a mind to it?”

“Yep.” Eta was grinning wildly.

I swiveled in my chair, and then threw the pen into a corner.

"Oh damn it - let's go!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vacation Ho!

"Shorts? Check.
Dressy stuff? Check."

Looking around my room, I made last run through my checklist of things to bring.

"Spare ammo? Check.
Sun Screen? Check."

Space is all good and well, but once in a while it is fun to go planet side - experience real sunlight, breath real air, and all that. And after all the excitement of the last weeks, not to mention the daily industrial grind, a vacation sounds just right up my alley.

"Holovids? Check.
Life Insurance? Check.
. . . aaand that's it."

Satisfied, I zipped close my bag and shouldered it.

"You're outta here?", called Eta out from her desk as I left my room.

"Yeah. Two weeks of lounging and mindless relaxation await!", I replied, adding "You should try it some day."

"Naah, I'd be bored halfway into the flight down."

I chuckled, "That's the point."

Eta grimaced, and I threw her a casual salute. "See you in 14, Sis. Don't blow the place to pieces while I'm gone, please?"

"Bah! You're no fun!"


And with that, the door closed behind me and I hurried to the docking level. I had a shuttle to catch!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Just. Awesome.

“Oh my gods. I still can’t believe it.”

“Yeah, me neither. Epic, all the way.”

“Where’s the bar - I need a drink. Or ten.”

It has been a while since the main offices of our corp saw that many visitors, and it had been even longer that we had Alliance members here as well, much less non-Alliance members. But now the rooms were filled with capsuleers, all in advanced states of exhaustion, and with no energy left for decorum. All that mattered was to get a stiff drink (which for some doubled as breakfast), a place to sit, and to reminisce the high points of the day while they were still capable of conscious thought.

“Did you see them when Dantae charged his Command Ship into them? He had three battleships and a Drake firing at him - and survived!”

“I’ll never forget how this single Drake took down one of their Abaddons!”

“If only they knew how close they came to winning. 6% structure left. SIX PERCENT!”

Sitting on a desk, slumped against the wall, I just uncompressed, aided by a glass filled with Arcturian Mega-Port. Words were failing me.

“Do you realize that if we lived in 0-sec, this would be something we would be doing every week? We wouldn’t even be noticing a single POS!” - “That’s why we don’t live there!”

“I think, at the end, the General passed out in his pod. Last I saw of him was his Carrier doing an emergency warp to a safe spot.”

“Where did the Supercaps come from again? And why?”

I thought of Eta, who was still out there, busily onlining modules to bring the POS back to full operation. She was never one for social gatherings, but had been invaluable as my eyes and ears while I was still stuck in our w-space system.

“Don’t know, some 0-sec alliance. They competed in the recent Alliance Tournament, that I know.”

“You should have seen it! Our attackers just wouldn’t give up! After they lost their two dreads and lone carrier, they came back in battleships!”

“I don’t know. First the 0-sec contact told Dantae that they were busy defending their own POS. But then suddenly - Boom! Supercap Hotdrop! Wish I could have seen it!”

“Gods, the repairing. THE REPAIRING! I don’t want to see another POS in my life!”

“Aw-right! I’m negative sec status!”

That was Heloisa, a 0-sec citizen who I met first in the Agony Unleashed classes, and who somehow had taken a liking to us. Right now she was high-fiving The Atheiist and Chi Ke, other random strangers and at the same time crucial persons this day.

Come to think of it, these Agony Unleashed classes had really paid off. Getting our pilots rallied in one point took a long time (as my fingernails did attest), but then it ran like a clockwork: Atheiist calling primaries and giving warp-ins, Heloisa acting as XO, calling secondaries and tertiaries, and everybody knew how to act in a fleet. Carebears with teeth, indeed.

“Can you believe it? They actually starting whining on comms on how we dared to call in help!”

“Our hit and runs really messed them up. Well, it helped that they were even less prepared than us!”

“I don’t even want to think about how close it got. Twice!”

I drained my glass, closed my eyes, and relied on the pressure of the wall to keep me awake. In a way, this attack couldn’t have come at a better time: as an alliance, we had lost our purpose, things had gotten too easy; and it was unclear who was really still with us and who was just coasting on the Alliance’ coat tails.

Not anymore.

“I still can’t believe we managed to finish the repairs with just minutes to spare.”

“Guess we all learned valuable lessons today.” - “Just don’t let us speak of them again. Ever.”

“Did you see the mail their Alliance boss sent to ours? ‘I think we need to talk, i think we have been mis-informed about certain details.”

Roaring laughter filled the room - this mail would be one of the things long remembered about this day.

I lifted my glass, and found that it was full again. Probably courtesy of my right hand. Thank you, right hand.

...damn, I better get a wrap on this before I crash completely.

As I got up, the words of an ancient Earth politician ran through my mind: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

“Listen Up!”

My shout was drowned out by the din, and I looked for an alternative to make myself heard. A nearby heavy object offered itself up to be hammered onto the desk I was standing on, gaining me the attention I required.

I raised my glass, discreetly dropping the former desk lamp onto the floor.

“Pilots - A toast! - Or, in fact, two toasts!

First: To unexpected allies!”

I nodded towards Heloisa, the Atheiist, and Chi Ke.

“At other times, we may not see eye to eye. But today, you helped saving the day!

Cheers erupted from the crowd, and I paused for a moment.


I looked around the room, searching out in particular the Gravimetrics pilots.

“...To the damn best Alliance I ever had the honor to fly with.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Another day in our w-space system, another neighbor to groom.

I wasn’t the first one get up this day, as Brad and Liza were already busy decimating one of our Grav sites. However, they hadn’t gotten around to our daily scan routine, so I took on the duty for today. After a light breakfast, I hooked up to my pod and let the amniotic fluid wash over me.

The signatures in our system were quickly confirmed: nothing new, just one of the older Mag sites had evaporated. And of course we had a new connection to a Cl.3 w-space system, which was the real objective.

Once jumped through, a quick lookaround confirmed that this system, too, was occupied. For ‘unknown space’ we sure kept finding lots of dwellers. Also on scan: about fifteen CAs, one Grav site, one Ladar site, and exits to 0-sec and lo-sec respectively. The Ladar site looked promising, filled with C-28 and C-32 gas, and outside d-scan range from the central system. It would be just a matter of waiting for the Sleeper patrol to show up, then the riches would be ours.

Of course it didn’t go as planned: after waiting some time, not only did the Sleeper patrol show up, but so did a number of Core Scan probes as well. A quick jaunt back to the central system showed a Probe on scan, but only briefly: the pilot was apparently moving around and I lost contact as often as I regained it.

Eventually I managed to trace the Probe down to the POS, but just when I arrived to eye the scene, the pilot changed into a Hound, warped off and cloaked.

I knew he hadn’t seen me, but with him around I couldn’t risk calling our non-cloaking gas miners in, so after a few minutes of diddling I gave up for the moment and headed back to our own system. I had a couple of other things to take care off anyway, so I docked back up, not without reminding Brad and Liza to keep an eye on the scanners.

A couple of hours later, I returned to our system, only to be greeted with this message:

Remember the Hound guy?

He warped in to our WH in the Hound with no scanner. I scanned out the cl3 as he asked. He said he would give me the Hound in return. I'm not stupid. I made him eject over the pos and I fleet warped him to the WH by himself. Now I have a shiny new stealth bomber with named and T2 equipment.

-- Brad

I’m so proud!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Are We Having Fun Yet?

So -- Planetary Interaction.

When it was first announced, I resisted. Too much it reminded me of POS Reactions on Steroids - replete with spreadsheets, non-linear optimizations, OCD-fueled min-maxing, and brimming with a plethora of special interest magazines.

Then CONCORD cleared the way, a fleet of heavily-guarded construction ships appeared in our little w-space system to put up customs offices, several of my corp members plonked down their command centers, and started spending all of their time with spreadsheets, non-linear min-maxing, and long discussions whether ‘The New Colonial’ or ‘Planets!’ had the better market advice. But my smugness didn’t last long - it may have been one too many ‘You too could be a God!’ flyers, or one of the many multi-million ISK transfers I made to corp members in exchange for home-made POS fuel; either way, I broke down and started colonies as well.

Everything seemed to be going swell - our w-System wasn't exactly rich, but quite well populated with planets, the processors hummed along merrily; only my spreadsheets caused me worry because they refused to match what my colonies were producing. No worries, probably just a type somewhere - a bit of staring at the numbers, and the mistake would reveal itself.

And revealed it was: at some point I over-calculated the raw material extraction by factor 2.


As mistakes go, it was easily corrected, but now all my industrial facilities needed to be rejiggered. I was just putting together a new plan, when suddenly my terminal went dark.

Power Outage? Somebody put us into reinforced? We forgot to refuel the POS? No - the lights were still on, and I hadn’t noticed any explosions either.

I turned, and came face to face with Lance, one of our resident miners, who was holding my terminal’s power connector in his hand.

“Boss”, he drawled, “You have to stop staring at numbers. There’s a whole universe out there, full of adventure!”


“You’ve been cooped up here for a month! When was the last time you were in space?”


“And I don’t mean your daily confirmation that our known signatures didn’t move over night. Real space!”


He grinned. “C’mon, you know you want to. Our today’s neighbor has some juicy CAs - so how about you shoot, and I salvage? And afterwards we can pick up some Fullerenes on the way back.”

I glanced at the dark terminal, and then back at Lance. Of course he was right - it had been too long since I did some real flying.

“Damn you, Lance. Last one to the hangar is a short-limbed roe!”


Two hours later, our ships docked back at the POS. As we padded barefoot to the living areas, toweling off the last remains of the Pod juice, Lance punched me into the arm.

“Well, Boss, wasn’t that fun?”

Well, let’s see: most of my Harbinger’s equipment was now resting, slightly scorched, in a can in the main hangar; my Harbinger itself was a smoking wreck off an Oruze Node; my Apoc’s structure was held together only just so by its armor, with no repairer on hand; and our Fullerene mining had been cut short when a Cheetah with an unpronounceable name started poking its probes into our business. So, did I have fun?

“Oh yeah!”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Imagine There's A War...

Wars. Oh, Empire Wars.

One of the things which really messes up the day of an industrialist: securing all POSes, having to stand guard while mining or hauling, and, worst of all, watching the reduced profit on the balance sheets.

Of course, in the beginning there is excitement, too - finally a chance to pull the dust covers of all the shiny faction toys which will surely bring us the victory, after all, remember how we ran Angel Extravaganza in just two of these beauties? These pirates, just let them come!

Such is the chatter in the ranks, while the CEOs check the balance on their War Chests, knowing full well that the war will likely end with an impromptu WH op or extended vacations.

These and others were my thoughts when I accepted the message about two weeks ago. Certified delivery, and from CONCORD - that could mean only one thing. And indeed, the Evil-Bastards had declared war on The Last Stand. Fighting was permitted to commence within 24 hours. And to throw a twist into the event, a little research showed that our opponents had taken out a tower in a previous war.

Oh well.

The usual flurry erupted: people dashing their Industrials to their POSes, to unceremoniously dump fuel into the bays or to prudently unanchor modules too valuable to risk; others moving their combat ships into less conspicuous locations, swearing that this time they really will prepare a fleet of 10, nay, 20 ready-fitted combat ships, Promise!; all the while our Intel officers delivering updates on who what where when.

The destined hour arrived, we received the customary “Good luck, folks” from our local CONCORD office, and then we were on our own.

And waited. And waited.

As our increasingly annoyed agents confirmed, the scumbags were still in Jita. Or Hek. Or whatever other trade hub you could think of, obviously waiting for us to drop by for tea and cookies.

C’mon guys, you war-decced us! Do we have to do everything for you? Sheesh!

And thus passed a very quiet week, with just the occasional fly-by, and one exchange of mildly agitated words, and when the day came, we offlined some weapons, stepped down our alertness, and got back to the business of ISK.

...only to be war-decced again two days later, by the Legion of Sun Tzu. This time our opponents actually had a plan: they had found a research POS which we had forgotten to refuel, and decided that a fireworks display was in order. By the time we caught on, the deed was done and the war was retracted.

Bastards! We had just updated our balance sheets!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Brave New World

“no no No No No NO NO!”

A calculator flew threw the air in our common room, impacting on the wall in front of me, shattering into dozens of pieces. It came so close to my head, I spilled half of my drink.

I sighed - only one person could get angry enough to violence a harmless piece of corporate machinery...

“Ok, Sis - spit it out.”

“The material market!”, she bellowed, waving a bundle of spreadsheets at me. I couldn’t read any of the writing from this distance, but the diagrams were visible enough: colorful curves of averages and channels, and all pointing downwards. “Might as well not bother reacting anything,” continued Eta, “by the time it’s done, I can be lucky to just break even.”

She threw the sheets back onto her desk, and leaned back. “I knew PI would mess things up, but this...”

“Shush, there must be something still worthwhile...”, I walked the few steps over to here, ignoring the wisps of smoke emanating from my tunic. “Let me see - how about this? PPD Fullerene Fibers - they make a decent profit still.”

“Yes, but - ”, she pulled up the current market prices, “there’s hardly enough of the gases out there to make it worth the effort of switching the reactor around. It’d be easier to just raid a w-space system or three.”

“Hmm...”, leaning back I pondered the situation. “Well, guess you’re screwed then.”

She harrumphed. “Gee, thanks! I’ll just have to try these to materials and hope for the best. But I wonder what POS fuel is doing now...”

“You may not want to...” I started in alarm, but too late: she pulled up the market information before I could stop her. Quickly I ducked behind a chair in anticipation of the next domestic projectile - but to my surprise nothing happened.

As I carefully peeked over the top of the chair, Eta was absentmindedly doodling on a piece of paper.

“You know,” she said to noone in particular, “Sometimes I wonder if shouldn’t just forget about this stuff, and do something less stressful. Like joining Hellfleet, or so.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Taking a Breather


If somebody had told me at the beginning of my career that I’d look forward to a quiet day of mining, I’d have laughed him off (and probably put into structure). But yet here I was, sitting in our corp Orca, enjoying the live feed from the Alliance tournament while cracking the ganglink whip over my minions. Sun shining on the ‘roids, drones merrily playing hide and seek with the Sansha locals, and in the bowels of the barges the Arcturian mega-space hamsters running in their wheels to power the strip miners. After all, even a CEO needs to take a break once in a while (as long as it generates a profit).

It felt like we had just left our previous wormhole (I distinctly remembered the subsequent days of freightering across New Eden to collect our belongings), but in fact it had been several weeks - long enough for our Alliance to get the itch again and look for a new WH to occupy.

A suitable system was soon found - a nice, cosy Cl.4 with not too many neighbors. But being a Cl.4, it’s most convenient access was through the daily neighboring Cl.3 into a lo-sec system, which made the initial move into the WH quite interesting.

Our Alliance boss had had packed up his Orca for days then, and when a suitable connection opened up, the call went out to the Alliance for scouts. Our corp was just about to embark on some missions, but much as we tried, our sense of duty prevailed and we exchanged our combat ships for flimsy CovOps and headed off to the Citadel. Once in the system, we did a quick evaluation of the situation: only one unknown in the system, safely docked in a station, and three gates - no problem for us five to keep eyes on.

But of course life wasn’t meant to be so kind to us. The Orca was just a jump or two out when we a got a newcomer in the system, an Omen piloted by a person of rather ill repute, and the way he dashed off from the gate to a safe spot told us that he meant business. Our CovOps were safe in their cloaks, but we had nothing to fight this guy with - what do do? While we were thinking, our handyman Marconi put out a flight of combat probes, to probe down the safe spot. Almost immediately he got a hit on the Omen (plus a number of abandoned sentries elsewhere in the system). While proceeding to narrow down the location, the Omen moved, only to be quickly located in the vicinity of an asteroid belt.

Hmm - this guy didn’t know what we were flying, and he’s obviously not keen on having us demonstrate it to him. Maybe, if we continue sending our probes after him, we can keep him busy enough to not pay attention to our Orca arriving. Not that Marconi needed any encouragement, as he was having a grand old time keeping the pirate on his toes.

This game continued for a good ten minutes, then suddenly our adversary showed up at the hi-sec gate, and jumped out. At first we couldn’t believe it - A Pirate! Running from us! - until somebody stated the obvious: “Six people in local, five from the same corp, none of them on scan, and somebody is chasing you with combat probes. What would you do?”

Getting the Orca through this system into the wormhole then was mere routine in comparison.

Since then, more people from the Alliance had moved into the wormhole (some of them in a way that threatened to give me grey hair despite them not even being in my corp), including a few Frequent Fliers, bringing their own little towers along. And while this was probably very character building for them, it meant that it was time for the full Frequent Flier Wormhole Setup to be brought into play again - besides, I had caught up with all the other things I needed to do.

...right after we finish that big rock over there!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Horrible Agony

It was quieter now, here in our settlement in w-space.

Over the last couple of weeks, we had a few new alliance mates joining us out here, but it soon became obvious that we had crossed the point of diminishing returns: even exploiting our daily neighbors, we were no longer able to extract enough profit. Plus, folks were starting to get stir crazy, so the new course of action is to move out of this w-space system, and find a higher class one to settle.

And if there is a thing the Frequent Flyers are good at, it’s getting things done once they have been decided: within just a few days, the majority of our combat and mining ships, as well as most of the ore, had been moved out.

But w-space didn’t intend to let us go that easily, as over the last days we just didn’t get any good exits, leaving us with naught to do.

Yesterday was another one of these evenings - all possible exits had been scanned out, and all that was left to do was shooting the breeze on Alliance comms. As people traded references to obscure pieces of modern pop culture (at some point there was even singing!), I dug up the video footage from our Agony roam last month. I had shot it primarily to evaluate my performance afterwards, so it wasn’t really visually appealing - but maybe I could make something out of it anyway.

And come to think of it - what was the song again which had just been “performed” on comms? Hmm..

...I really shouldn't be allowed near video editors late at night :) (Click on the above preview to get to the actual video page).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Grand Night Out

Caldak: What do we have to be careful of?
MoHawk Nephilium: An Agony Basic class :)

“Yo! D!”

I stopped in my tracks, hearing that familiar voice from behind. The other pilots pushed past me, eager to get into their pods.

“Heloisa? What are you doing here?”

“Same as you: Agony Advanced class, shiny explosions, more pew-pew goodness.” She cocked her head. “However, I am surprised to see you here - aren’t you supposed to be bravely crumbling the ‘roids in your w-system?”

I rolled my eyes. “There are only so many Sleepers and asteroids you can put down before you go stir crazy. Besides, I need the practice.”

“Indeed you do...”, she grinned, “ yesterday’s fleet exercise showed. Well, see you out there!”

And off she was before I could think of a reply. Oh well, time to get podded up.


About an hour later, the ambient noise of the Impro Factory station in Stacmon gathered an urgent note as the engines of 60-some cruisers sprang to life. Pilots ran through their last checklists, while the Intel channels in the region were probably buzzing with the news of our imminent departure. Not that we had much time to think about details like that - too anxious we were to put yesterday’s theoretical instructions to the test, while hopefully not messing up too much in the process.

[ Hey, D. What squad are you in? ], asked Heloisa over comms.

“Echo, why?”

[ They made me SC of Golf - don’t you want to do that? ], she asked, adding [ You have better skills. ]

I hesitated - while on paper my leadership skills were better, I had never commanded a squad before, whereas Heloisa has quite some experience in 0-sec gangs.

[ Oh, c’mon, do-it-do-it-do-it. You know you want to! ]

“Ok”, I relented. Free-Move was enabled, she demoted herself while I took her place, then I took a quick look at my little group: two Ewar/Artillery Arbitrators, two Ruptures, a Thorax, and my Maller. Not bad for a squad - if only it had a real SC in charge.

[[ Right, everyone undock. ]], ordered Caldak, our FC and instructor.

Good thing we had practiced this yesterday: all cruisers undocked almost simultaneously, accompanied by a few Agony Interdictors and skirmishers. A few seconds later, we fleet-warped to an undock point. Our scouts moved out, and after making sure that our little fleet was complete, we followed them.

Through Ostingele and Harroule our way led to Syndicate, and in MHC we already had our first hostile contact. In fact, the Falcon, Harbinger and Hurricane were defeated so quickly that it was over before I could even target the my own weapons. After a short break to replace a few lost ships, we pushed deeper into Syndicate - UM-Q, T-LI, V4-L... all names I had always marveled at in GalNet news, imagining how it must be to fly there. And now that I was here, I found myself fully occupied with following the commands and recon reports on comms, while trying to keep up with the fleet.

From the ongoing conversation I gathered that a hostile fleet was suspected to be somewhere ahead of us, possibly even connected to the Loki which showed up occasionally to taunt us. We held in V4, and Caldak started ordering squads to split off the main fleet. Looking at the map, he appeared to trap the enemy fleet in AAS...

[[ Golf Squad...]]

Golf Squad? Damn, that’s us!

[[... go to KTH, 1-N, QWF and hold at the gate to AAS.]]

Good thing I had already checked the map - we were to cut off another avenue to our suspected hostile fleet. ...uhm, did I need to acknowledge the order?

“Acknowledge. Golf to move to KTH, 1-N and close the backdoor to AAS.”, I replied over comms, followed by my very first order as SC: “Golf, align KTH gate.”

I gave my squad a few seconds to align, then I warped us all to the KTH gate. We jumped on contact, and moved on - trying to find a compromise between good speed while making sure that we didn’t get separated. Luckily it was only a few systems, and we arrived in one group and took up position.

And waited.

And waited.

Listening to comms I could deduce that the hostiles had eluded us - Delta and Echo were moving somewhere to the north, but apart from a small skirmish in T-LI had no luck. Finally, the order came to move up on our own to Poitot. Relieved, we left our position and got on our way. We were halfway to Poitot, when comms became very lively again: the group with our FC had run into a gate camp and were engaging.

I was unsure: should I divert and have my squad join the fray, or continue as ordered? It was only a few systems away, but in all likelihood the fight would be over before we got there - so I had my squad continue towards Poitot. We had just entered our destination, when word came through that a squad coming from the north had made contact just one system over in X-BV, and was in need of assistance. Our group in Poitot didn’t need a second invitation - we jumped into X-BV and made short work of an Astarte. As we returned to Poitot, two Nighthawks met an untimely end at the hands of the last groups arrived from the south, and we all docked up for a short break.

As the engines of my trusty Maller fell silent, I was able to relax for the first time since our departure from Stacmon. While my little group had seen only little combat so far, just following the fleet had been surprisingly demanding. At the same time, I have had an easier time following the fleet comms than in Basic class. Maybe because we had a slightly smaller group, or maybe I really had learned a thing or two in the meantime.

EVE System > Channel changed to F67E-Q Local Channel
Apathetic Brent > EVERYONE LOG OFF NAO!
Apathetic Brent > wrong channel soz

Twenty minutes later, our fleet was back in space. After a short circuit through the south, we moved to the north of Syndicate, but this time we had no luck: whereever we went, the systems were deserted - obviously the news of our class had spread. We were contemplating looking for alternative areas to visit, when a recon report caught our attention: a battlecruiser fleet of the Dead Terrorists (IKILU) was spotted coming from the Outer Ring in our direction.

Cautiously we moved to meet them, from PF-349 through FD-MLJ, X-M2LR and onward to 8V-SJJ. From the reports of our scout it became clear that IKILU had set up camp and was waiting for us jump into it. Obviously, that wouldn’t do: even though we had the numerical superiority, we were still only in cruisers - we had to get them to engage on our terms. Our only chance was to bait them into moving towards us.

Our fleet jumped into 3KNK-A and held there, except for one squad which was to move ahead towards the system leading to the IKILU camp (RL-KT0?). Their orders were to linger around the gate, pop a bubble and in general look juicy, but to not aggress - IKILU surely had a scout in that system and would relay their presence.

Minutes passed - then the bait squad reported a spike in local: IKILU had noticed them and was sending a group to investigate. The bait squad jumped back to C0T-77, holding at the gate to 3KNK-A, waiting to see if IKILU would follow them.

And follow they did! Our scout reported that the main body IKILU was abandoning their camp and was moving towards us - now the trick would be to keep them moving.

As IKILU entered C0T-77, our bait squad waited just long enough to be seen again, before jumping into 3KNK-A. The same time, our main fleet moved back into 8V-SJJ to set up station at the 3KNK-A gate. And again, our bait squad lingered at the 8V-SJJ gate in 3KNK-A - as IKILU arrived, the bait squad jumped through to 8V-SJJ, signaling the immediate begin of hostilities.

And then - nothing.

What was going on? So far IKILU had seemed to be willing to play ball, were they now backing away, afraid to jump into our camp? Did they need a few minutes to get organized? Or was this now a game of chicken, each side waiting for the other to lose nerve first? We bantered on comms, to easen the tension, but everybody kept an eye on the gate.


IKILU had blinked - I switched my weapons hot.

A Harbinger appeared just 10 km away - I put my weapons on him, as did several others of our fleet, and for good measure a tracking disruptor. As our weapons made short process of the Harbinger’s shield and started biting into its armor, the rest of the IKILU fleet decloaks: I see a Manticore, an Arazu, a Prophecy, and hordes of Drakes and Harbingers.

The first Harbinger goes down, and I target a nearby Prophecy and another Harbinger - three Lasers on the Prophecy, and two Lasers plus the Track on the Harbinger. The Prophecy goes down - not very quickly, I shouldn’t have split my weapons - and I target a third Harbinger, while now aiming all five Lasers at the second Harbinger.

Klaxons shrill, signaling the loss of my shield. I am taking damage, but I can’t immediately see from where, so I turn on my small repper and warp to our designated escape point.

That is: I intend to warp out, but too late I realize that I maybe should have maneuvered clear of our own bubbles. Well, if I have to go down, I will go down fighting - six enemies are now tearing my Maller apart, but I keep my Lasers focused on Harbinger #2. My armor is gone, the enemy lasers and missiles are ripping my structure to shreds - and I find myself in my pod, floating in the middle of a pitched space battle. I set course for the border of the bubble, and for a few seconds actually make progress - but then a lance of fire approaches my pod, and I opened my eyes in Stacmon.

As I exited the stations’ clone bay, more and more vats began to activate - the battle must have turned against us. I hastened to get podded up and plugged into my spare cruiser (a Thorax), but by the time my systems went active, our fleet had lost 90% of its offensive force and all of its ECM, so the survivors were ordered to fall back and regroup in Stacmon. To my delight, Heloisa was under the survivors - I had seen her Arbitrator well away from the main battle, so our enemy probably had underestimated the danger an Ewar Arbitrator can pose even over longer distances and didn’t target her until the very end.

It would take some time for everybody to return, so I took the opportunity to look at the battle statistics. On the surface it looked like a rout: we had lost 42 ships out of 62 vs. IKILU’s 19 out of 43 - but that was only half the truth. All of our lost ships had been cruisers, cheap to buy, yet we had managed to take out almost half of a fleet comprised of more powerful (and more expensive) battlecruisers. Heck, we even managed to take down a command ship and a battleship in the fight!

Caldak> Nothing like killing pirates to make you feel good.

It took about half an hour to get the fleet re-established - as some pilots chose to end the roam at this point out of exhaustion, our fleet halved in size. Again we were headed into Syndicate, this time entering from the South through TXW and then working our way into the Cloud Ring.

This time around, targets were rare - most people were smart enough to stay well clear of us - and to Heloisa’s annoyance most of the targets we did find happened to be allies of hers. While this was not very satisfying for the adrenaline junkies amongst us, it provided a lot of opportunity to practice the art of the hunt: fleet movements, independent squad maneuvers, pincer movements, shotgun entries into systems - and all the time following the reports sent back by the skirmishers to try and anticipate the fleet’s next move. It became a running gag that the FC announced the wrap-up of the op within the next half hour, only to be sidetracked by yet another possible target just a few systems away. But all good things had to come to an end eventually, and we left the Cloud Ring for Alsavoinon and our 8-Jump journey back through Placid. Given that we were in lo-sec now, we could relax and fly our own best speed back home.

It was on the last leg, in warp to the Stacmon gate in Ostingele, when suddenly one of our skirmishers spoke up on comms:

[ This is Aether at the Agoze gate in Ostingele - I have a tackle on a flashy-red Navy Slicer. He’s trying to run, but I am keeping up. ]

Orders were given, but not really necessary - everybody knew what had to be done. As we dropped out of warp, we immediately turned our ships around and accelerated back the way we came. Those fleet members who were still behind us stepped up their pace, racing towards Ostingele. All the while Aether’s reports grew more urgent:

[ I still have a tackle on the Slicer, but I am in armor now - you better hurry up. ]

The warp bubble collapsed, releasing me some 70km away from both Aether and the Slicer. Around me, a handful other cruisers popped back into normal space. Afterburners and Microwarpdrives flared up, all of us burning as fast as we could towards the Slicer. Our Ewar ships got in range first, dropping their Damps and Tracks onto the Slicer, reducing its effective combat range to about nothing, saving Aether’s ship just in the nick of time. Behind us the gate fired, admitting a Republic Fleet Tempest into the system - a friend of the Slicer’s pilot, coming to help. But too late - our target locks resolved, and the Slicer exploded under an onslaught of missiles, turrets and drones. The Tempest, seeing that it was outnumbered, made the smart decision to reapproach the gate and leave before we could get back to him.

It was the perfect end for the roam - elated, chatting excitedly, we made our way back to Stacmon and docked up, only now noticing that we had spent nine hours on this roam, only now noticing how exhausted we actually were. Yet we were loath to leave just yet, too much adrenaline was still in our systems, and for most of us it was the first chance to look at the whole of the battle reports. Eventually, however, tiredness got the better of me, and I left for my quarters in the station, lest I’d fall asleep on my feet.

The way to the quarters led me past the ship hangars, and here I stopped, looking at the majestic ships which just a short time before hurdled us through the depth of space. Suddenly the prospect of returning to our Wormhole was much less appealing to me than it was just one day ago - it just didn’t compare against the excitement I had just experienced. Yet I knew that I had to go back, if only to make sure I could continue to afford excursions like today’s.

Maybe I could delay my return a bit - our Alliance was interested in renting a system in 0-sec space, and while we had done our research, none of us had actually found the time to take a first-hand look at the possible systems. With my Covops I should be able to get down there without too much trouble, and collect some bookmarks on the way.

Yep, that sounded like a plan - the Sleepers could wait a little longer.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Trouble in the Neighborhood

One of the ahem pleasures of wormhole life is the daily scan for new signatures - both in our own w-system as well as whichever new neighbor we happen to have. New sites, possible hostiles, exits to hi-sec - the usual intel. Standing order is that whoever gets up first, is in charge of scanning.

This Sunday it turned out to be me who got up first. Grumbling, second cup of coffee in hand, I padded down to the pod bay, to begin the ritual of podding up. A quick scan around the system, I told myself, one hour tops - no biggie.

Out in space, the scan of our own system went quickly. We were having another dry spell, so apart from one anomaly there were just the customary lo-sec and w-space connections. Oh well, might as well poke my head in.

Materializing in the other system, I immediately hit the d-scan.... oh-ho! Two towers, lots of guns, and a few Badgers and Retrievers toiling around. Jumping across the system to the outermost planet revealed two more “spare” towers. I start working my backwards through the planets, locating the exact locations of those POSes and taking note of their owners.

Hmm, one Russian POS, with just one gun battery, one shield hardener, a corporate hangar and a ship array; the others were owned by the Stellar Defense Alliance, with pretty decent setups. Oh, look! Another POS at the inner planets. Not much point in scanning for sigs here, all will be gone anyway.

Kat VonHeise > o/

What? A quick check of my systems reveals that I’m well away from celestials, and my cloak is still working. Reply? Ignore? Slink away and pretend I’ve never been here?

Aryiel VonHeise > how do you like our ore? :o)

Ok, they can’t mean me then - I’m nowhere near the ‘roids. They must be talking to the Retrievers I have on scan.

Kir Friar > да

Meanwhile, back at our POS, our other corp mates are starting their day, and I begin relaying back the situation. Which for the next half hour consisted of nothing, except the Russians anchoring a second gun battery. Then...

Plinth Alon > Guys - we are not looking for any neighbors here. I prefer that you not set up in this hole.
Plinth Alon > You have two hours to leave, or we will have to kill you.
Plinth Alon > We have a Revelation Dreadnaught at our POS - Planet VII, Moon 4. Come look. But come in cloaked so you don't get shot. We will have to kill you if you do not leave

And indeed - there’s now a Revelation on d-scan, plus an assortment of battleships. Word spreads quickly on our comms - breakfast forgotten, safety checklists ignored, people are scrambling into their cloaky ships, all for the chance to see one of these behemoths up close in action!

At the same time, bewilderment. Who begins mining a w-space system before their POS is even set up? And who sets up a POS in a system that already has five foreign towers to begin with?

[ Total noobs ] opined Calcinus.

All the while, I moved myself into a nice observation spot near the Russian POS. The local residents show an astonishing amount of patience, holding a negotiation in English and Babel-Russian in the local channel. We’re passing our time shooting the breeze, including the discussion of a couple of harebrained schemes to install Popcorn dispensers into our Pods (it’s the amniotic fluid, see? It makes the popcorn all soggy). The two-hour-mark ticks closer and closer - and finally the Russians give in.

Bonevsky > ok, Fitz, we not instal battery and any othe structures
Bonevsky > we scan new wormholes to hi sec and out here. Ok?

Hmm, they must have lost their original entrance. If they scan for exits and find the connection to us and decide that our cozy lil’ system might be a nice place to re-settle... Cal had voiced this concern before, but now it had a distinct chance of becoming reality. ‘An ounce of prevention’ and all that.

“Cal, do you have anything cloaked with teeth?”

[ I have my Pilgrim - let me get back to our system and guard the WH from our side. ]


Jaana was thinking along the same line: [ I’ll get to a TAC on this side of the WH. ]


Now we had eyes, but we were still lacking in the teeth department. At the same time, I didn’t want to give up my station at the Russian POS - I wanted to know what else they had. Plus, so far nobody had noticed our presence here - I didn’t want to tip our hand before I absolutely had to.

[ I’m in my Pilgrim and at the WH ], reports Cal. [ But don’t we have some of those warp probes? ]

“You mean Warp Bubbles? Yes, several - aah, good idea! Wake up Sparky and let him anchor some at the exit.”

[ Will do. Oh, and if their Prober gets through? ]

Good question.

“The bubbles should deter him. But if they don’t and he tries to burn out, shoot him.”

Minutes pass, Sparky anchors (under much grumbling) the two bubbles, and not a moment too soon.

[ Russian Heron at our WH ], reports Jaana.

“What’s he doing?”

[ Don’t know - nothing at the moment. No, wait, he’s moving away from it now. And he put probes out. ]

“Maybe he realized that this is not a hi-sec exit?”

[ Maybe... ]

In Local channel, meanwhile, chatter was going back and forth between the (still patient) residents and the Russians - most of it incomprehensible to us. I was close to calling it a wrap, when a change on the scanner tickled my neural receptors.

“The Russians have brought out an Eagle. ” A quick scan of the ship register pulls up the related information. “A Caldari HAC.”

[ People fly them? ]

“Cal, can you take on a HAC?”

[ No, not in this ship. ]

Now that was a pickle - it was too late for me to get into something heavier, and I was not sure that we could get our Battleship pilot into the game quickly enough. We just had to let it play out.

“The Eagle warped off.”

[ Eagle is at the WH ], reports Jaana. [ He’s approaching... he’s gone through. ]

[ WH flash. ] confirms Cal. [ I don’t see him yet. ]

Friggin’ jump cloak!

[ There he is. ] announces Cal sixty tense seconds later. [ Nice - he’s in the middle of one of the bubbles. ... He’s heading back to the WH - and he is through. ]

And indeed, shortly after, the Eagle dropped out of warp near the Russian POS.

“You know,” I admitted, “I wasn’t sure that this would work.”

[ Heron warped off. ]

We stayed a little while longer, but it became clear that the main entertainment for the day was over: the Russians continued to try and scan for an exit without much success, but everybody stayed well clear of our WH.

“Ok, let’s call it.”, I announced finally. “Nothing will happen here anytime soon. And should they come to us after all, we’ll deal with it later - though I doubt it.”

[ Too bad that we didn’t get to see the Revelation in action. ]

“Yeah - guess we have to build our own for that to happen.”

We leisurely made our way back to our POS (leaving the bubbles in place, just in case), in a surprisingly good mood, considering that we just spent one hour and 220 minutes doing pretty much nothing. And of course we were now curious about the fate of the Russians - would they make it out? Would Space Defense Alliance lose patience after all and pop them?

Maybe I should write the SDA and ask.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010




*beep*CLACK* *bzzm*bzbzmbzmm*

“AARGH! Turn the fracking lights off!”

“Oops, sorry.”


“”Sorry“ my arse.”, I growled. “You knew exactly I was here.”

“Well, ok, I knew.” I heard Eta making her way through the cramped POS control room. “But what’s up with this blackout?”

“I’m trying to relax for a few minutes - and have you seen this room with lights on? I prefer the Blinkenlights.”

“Point.” She found her way to my spot, and made herself comfy on one of the consoles. “So, Sis, what have you been up to?”

Good question - what have I been doing?

“Uhmmm... ”, I hedged, “you know how it is: this and that, and afterwards you can’t remember exactly what it is you did.”

“Tush! I didn’t fly all the way to your hi-sec connection just to listen to Corporate Speak!”

“Ok, well - we had some more Corpies coming in here, but we also had our setbacks: Our Wormhole system has been rather dry recently, Lance lost his brand-new Hulk...”

“Ah, that’s why he was so happy about the Covetor I brought in.”

“Exactly. During a spatial disturbance yesterday, LC got podded - again.”


“+5s, and a 5% mining implant.”

Eta whistled through her teeth. “Ouch.”

“...and we lost Heloisa about a week back.”

“That cute Khanid girl in the ‘dictor? What happened? ...oh, and whatever you’re having, I’d like some, too.”

I handed her the can I had been sipping from, and tried to recall that night. It had been a bit of a mess, as I had been involved in negotiations with business associates, so my role that night was mostly one of hovering around cloaked and providing occasional scraps of Intel.

“Business associates?”, interrupted Eta.

“You don't wanna know.”

We have been exploring a neighboring wormhole system, which as usual these days involved figuring out if the inhabitants were friendly or not. We had only seen one guy active, going by the name of Meditril, but he was really good: I saw him clean out a CA in just a Wolf. Of course, he noticed us as well, and we began a game of cat-and-mouse with scan probes. Unsurprisingly, he found the entrance to our wormhole and took a look around - and few moments later we got a rather surprising comm from the scout we left behind:

[ Uhm, this Meditril guy, he just talked to me local. He claims that we’re blue to him.]


“That’s what we thought.”

As it turned out, their corp had given us standings some time ago without us knowing, and in the light of this (and his generous offer to play in his wormhole’s sites), we no longer pursued him, but instead our group continued blazing through the anomalies (ok, the rest of my group, while I was sitting at the wormhole connection), and Meditril continued his scanning for signatures.

Except - the scan probes we saw weren’t his. The extent of our mistake became evident when a complete heavy gang appeared at the signature site: Buzzard, Huginn, Zealot, Drake, Typhoon, and a Scimitar against our Devoter, Onyx and Damnation. The Onyx and Damnation managed to warp out, but the gang got a point on Heloisa’s Devoter, and started to to take it apart.

On our side, not having prepared for this contingency, hesitation reigned. Jump back to help? Ambush the gang on their way out? Flee? Our Onyx pilot did make an attempt at a rescue, but was intercepted long before he could get into fighting range. Heloisa held on for a surprisingly long time, but even the Devoter’s tank could not withstand the onslaught forever and the ship exploded.

“Did she get her Pod out ?”

“Yep - bounced off a planet and then back into our wh system.”

“...mightily pissed, I presume.”

“You could say that. That Devoter has served her well for the good part of a year - while we did pool together so that she could buy a new one, you can’t replace that history.”

“Yeah...” Eta chewed her lower lip. “Though I don’t see what you could have done differently - they had the superiority on the field, and sacrificing T2 ships for the remote chance of a ‘Good Fight’... - it might have made her feel better, though.”

“Mhm - I was pondering that, too, but I don’t have a good answer for it either.”

“You’ll find one - that’s why you are the CEO!”

“...and as CEO I get the best drinks. Gimmie!”

We sat there for a while, watching the scanner tracing Tar as he was testing his ships around the POS.

“Where is she now?”, broke Eta the silence.

“She’s back in Empire - got herself a new Devoter, but will probably go back to 0-sec. Her corp has gone on the offensive again, and can use every pilot they have.”

“Too bad, I’ll miss her.”

“Me, too.”, I admitted. “But this reminds me - next time you fly to Stacmon, could you please be a dear and drop this stuff off for me?”

“I wasn’t aware that I was flying to Stacmon...”, Eta took the data chip from my hands and studied it. “Hmm, a Maller, a Thorax, a Rupture - and a whole bunch of mods. Agony class again?”

“Yep!” I grinned. “Fun, fights, and shiny explosions!”

“Well, in that case I think it’s an endeavour worth supporting.” Eta slipped the chip in one of her innumerable pockets, and then pushed herself back onto her feet. “But I gotta go - the wormhole will close in a couple of hours, and I still have to get my pod warmed up.”

“Sure,” I hopped to my feet as well, and feigned a punch at her which she easily blocked (she was never one for sisterly hugs), “It was good to see you again. Fly safe, will ya?”

“Always.” She threw me a mock salute, then carefully picked her way out of the room. At the bulk head, she turned back on more time.

“Oh, shall I turn the lights back on?”


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quiet Time

The Scan Probes sped away into the dark of space, and on the screen the intriguing dance of the scan signals began. After a few seconds, the dance ended and with a *beep* the system announced ... nothing.

After a bit over a month in our home away from home, we were again going through a dry spell; where all the good sites appear to spawn in other w-space systems, just not ours. But after the excitement of the last weeks, a bit of down time will do us good - and I’m not just talking about the excitement incurred by a juicy ABC belt.

Being in low-level w-space always has the disadvantage of curious people poking their noses in, and while we don’t mind visitors that much, they better stay away from our sites. About three times in the last weeks we had to show our grim side, and while it wasn’t always successful, our esprit-de-corps was greatly strengthened. It helps that our alliance has recently switched from CVA-NRDS to NBSI - though for us industrials it will probably always be more a case of NB-Can Shoot If Really Unavoidable.

But it’s not all work and battle in our home - our ever-changing exits sometimes lead into interesting areas, like recently when our scouts brought back the news that we had an exit to Gateway - yes, that Gateway . Of course our little band gathered together and we went for a little trip, visiting the famous EVE Gate.

Should you happen to be in that area, definitely give it a visit.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baptism by Laser Fire

It’s been two weeks into our sojourn in to w-space, and while the system had not yielded quite the riches we hoped, there was enough to find to keep us busy. Especially after we got into the habit of exploring the neighbouring w-systems and collecting their valuables.

Today it was a gas site we were after. Heloisa - a friend to the corp taking a breather from the 0-sec wars - was holding at the site in her Devoter, waiting for the inevitable Sleeper patrol to show up. I had jumped back to the POS, to switch into something more suitable, but right now was just futzing around with some security detail.

[ Shit. There’s a Typhoon here. ]


[ There’s a Typhoon here. And he has me locked. ]

For a moment I was frozen. We had known that sooner or later it would come to this, we did prepare as well as we could, but finally being in this situation was whole ‘nother story. Without thinking I began the process of disentangling my pod from my current ship.

[ He is shooting at me, and he has drones out. ] Panic began to creep into Heloisa’s voice.

“Coming! Coming!”

I knew that neither her nor myself had previous experience in this kind of combat. Granted, we had our share of battle experience, but it was either at the receiving end of a shiny explosion, or we were in the comfortable embrace of a fleet with a competent FC. Facing a single enemy without preparation - that was a first.

What do you use against a Typhoon? What class of ship is a Typhoon anyway?

[ Any help would be appreciated! ]

I noticed that without thinking I had boarded a Harbinger I had bought some years ago from a friend. Not exactly a combat fit, it was setup as a hardened 0-sec ratter - and I had never flown her before in anger. But Harbingers are my second skin, and there was no time for dawdling.

[ Hurry the F up, ok?! ]

The pod connects to the ship’s systems and initiates an emergency power up - I undock and enter warp while the gun crews hastily load Multifreqs into the laser batteries. It’s a journey of only a few seconds, and I finally emerge from warp, hardeners, repairer and DCU humming. 10 klicks away from me, the hull of a Minmatar battleship shimmers in the sun.

Right then. I put a point on him, command the ship to enter an orbit for now, the target computer resolves its lock, and my lasers throw out their deadly beams. Warning sounds inform me that the Typhoon is trimming his guns on me, his drones target me - and I lose my lock. ECM drones!

I’d need drones to fight the drones - duh, I hadn’t launched my drones yet. The drone bay opens and swarm of T1 drones speeds into space. The target computer just finished re-resolving the Typhoon lock, and before I can tell it to target one of the drones, I get jammed again. Lacking other commands, my drones start attacking the Typhoon. At the same time, the Typhoons guns and torpedoes break through my shield and start eating into my armor, and my ship helpfully informs me that there’s also a point and a target painter on me.

This was getting hairy.

But! now that the Typhoon was focused on me, Heloisa got a chance to strategize.

[ Ok. Calm down now for a moment. ] I heard her over the comms.

A moment later, the Devoter’s warp disruption generator springs to life and creates a bubble around us - nobody was now going anywhere. I drop my attempts to point the Typhoon to preserve some cap, but at this rate it wouldn’t be enough: the faction Bane torpedoes were scouring my armor at a frightening rate.

[ Come closer to me, I have a remote repper. ]

Instantly I change course and hurry towards the Devoter. The repper lights up, and my armor deteriorates not quite as fast. Also, the Devoter’s lasers spring back into life - this time not directed at the mighty battleship, but at the vastly more fragile ECM drones.

Vlodovich > gf so far
Druur Monakh > Indeed

It’s a race against the clock - one by one we pop the ECM drones, me getting in a potshot once a minute or so, while my armor vaporizes into space. Finally, the last drone explodes and we target the Typhoon, only to be thwarted by two more ECM drones swarming towards.

My Harbinger shrieks a Hull Breach warning while Heloisa pops the the remaining drones as quickly as possible. Smoke is wafting through my compartments, but we redirect our efforts back at the Typhoon. My drones (remember my drones?) had managed to eat away his shield, and our lasers start working on his armor. Just now the Sleepers decide to drop by, and in their hostility towards everything breathing Oxygen hit the Typhoon first.

The Typhoon’s torpedoes are still stripping away my structure, but his tank is broken: within seconds he is into hull and then explodes. Heloisa drops the bubble, yells at me to warp out before the Sleepers get me, but I just have to try and lock his pod - too late, he smartly warps out.

Seconds later, I warp out myself with just a bit over 50% structure remaining, barely remembering to pull in my drones before I leave.

Vlodovich > lmao that was a sweet as fuck fight
Vlodovich > best i had in several weeks
Druur Monakh > It was a close one - good job.

Back at the POS I am met by our repair truck, repairing my structure as my own reppers do their work on the armor, and Heloisa collects the spoils of our victory.

[ Sweet! Sisters Combat Probes! ]

It took us hours to come down from our high. For all the experienced combat pilots this kind of encounter is probably nothing special anymore, but for us it was our very first face-to-face fight on even terms, and for once we even managed to come out victoriously.

In hindsight, there were a couple of things we could have done better: the Devoter - a ship that can tank a Class 2 Sleeper site without breaking a sweat - was hardly in any immediate danger; had we payed attention, we would have noticed that neither of us were webbed and that we could have outrun the Typhoon at any time; with any better organisation we could have further minimized the damage dealt to us - and of course the Typhoon had a rather unusual fit.

But as a friend commented afterwards: “A fit is a fit; but a win is a win.”


Saturday, January 30, 2010

A New Year

[ ] Write a post

There it was, looking at me accusingly. Turned out that writing is not quite as simple as expected, especially when there are so many other things to do. Like the impending expedition into a w-space system - there had been fuel to buy, transportation to be staged, people to be enthused and just in general details to be managed.

But now everything was in place, and all we were waiting for was a good wormhole to go through. The previous days had yielded no such thing, and with the rest of the corp having called it a night, all that was left to do for me was some paper work - including that darn TODO item. And I didn’t have the slightest idea what to write.

Just then, comms flashed with an incoming call.

[ Boss, you won’t believe it! ] It was our wormhole scout. [ We have a wormhole, just three jumps from HQ! ]


“Give me details”

[ Class Two system, wormhole is good for 2B kg, 300M kg jump limit. ]

Which was good enough to bring an Orca in and out a couple of times, despite its lousy cargo/mass ratio. On the other hand there was no way to get any of the other corp mates back, so it would be just me and him. Not what I hoped for, but this was a chance to be taken.

“Right. Hold position and keep me posted. I’ll bring the Orca and we set up the basic POS with defenses.”

[ Understood. ]

I closed comms and was almost out of the door, when I remembered one last thing..

[ x ] Write a post