Thursday, September 29, 2011

Next Time, Just Pay The F'ing Ransom!

One last salvo from my lasers, and the Blood Raider Apocalypse exploded in a nice, shiny fireball.

“Ok, you can come in now!”, I transmitted over comms, while setting my course towards the space cathedral. It was protected by two Raider frigates and cruisers each, but being non-Capsuleer ships, they stood no chance against my Absolution.

A blip on my scanner announced the arrival of a Noctis - Eta had arrived.

[ That’s a lot of battleships! ], she commented, referring to both the wrecks and the other battlegroup, 60 klicks off the cathedral.

“No worries, they are just flesh pilots, nothing I can’t handle.”

[ If you say so...]

Quickly dispatching the Raiders at the cathedral, I steered my ship towards the other battlegroup. It was the same mix of battleship and cruisers as the first one, if I kept up my transversal, my command ship should be able to mitigate the incoming damage.

“How’s the salvaging coming?”

[ So-so. Some loot suitable for reprocessing, but average overall. Uhm - you’re taking a lot of fire? ]

“Yah, they tend to do that. But my armor is holding...”

And indeed, having destroyed the last cruiser and now aimed for a tight orbit around one of the battleships, my armor repairers were doing a good job nullifying the incoming damage. Not fully, but well enough to destroy at least one of the battleships. Capacitor was at 40-something percent, and dropping rapidly., what?

“Gods dammit!”

Three of the battleships had put neuts on me, and soon I’d be dry. What to do?

Without thinking, I launched my Warrior drones, and shut down my lasers. Might as well do some damage, while I’m still on the grid, feeble as it may be. But it wasn’t enough - my cap dropped to 30%, then 20% - any second now my repairers would shut down.

“I need to bail - align to something useful, just in case.”, I advised Eta, while following my own advise.

Lumbering like a duck in molasses, my ship turned towards the next stargate and started accelerating. Cap exhausted, my repairers shut down, and soon some of the Raider shots penetrated the armor into my structure.

“C’mon...”, I implored the ship, spamming the warp command into the system, hoping to catch the cap recharge cycle before the neuts did. I even almost forgot to pull my drones in.

[ You’re on fire. ], commented Eta dryly, safe in her non-combat ship, [ As usual. ]

I was already pondering where to get the ISK for a new command ship when suddenly the warp drive caught, and I was propelled about 3 AUs away from the Blood Raider settlement.


Shutting down all non-essential systems, I directed all available power towards the repairers, and then pondered how to defeat this battlegroup. Multifrequency laser crystals would put me right back into neut range, and my token missile launcher simply didn’t do enough damage on its own. But wait a minute...

I called up the sensor recordings of the fight and played back the last few minutes.... yes! Moments before I had entered warp, all battleships had dropped their neuts - at a range of about 25km.

That meant I could take them with my Scorch crystals. I would be in fall-off and doing only a fraction of my possible damage, but it should work. I just would have to make sure that I kept within that 5km window of range.

A quick check back on my ship - yep, armor and capacitor are back to full. Even the shield had regenerated a bit.

“Ok, I’m coming back in - I think I know how to defeat them.”

[ Wouldn’t it be sufficient to just blow up the cathedral? ], inquired Eta. [ That would show the kidnappers that we mean business. ]

“It would,” I admitted, “but this is now personal. Plus, did you look at the bounties?”

A second of silence, then Eta whistled. [ Nevermind, carry on.]

“Way ahead of you!”, I smiled, as my Absolution dropped out of warp. The Raider battlegroup was glistening in the sun, just 80 klicks off me, again obliviously orbiting their tactical beacon.

I just had to not make a piloting mistake now, and this battlegroup would rue the day they kidnapped that something-or-other’s daughter. Indicators, well, indicated a fresh load of crystals and missiles in my weapons, and my crew was safely at their combat stations. I punched the afterburner for the approach.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Welcome To The Noble Exchange!

“Welcome, Madam, to the Noble Exchange! How may I be of service?”

“Of course, boots, this way please. I am sure Madam will be delighted by our selection.”

“If I may recommend the ‘Graeve’ boots - our latest addition, and at only 2,400 AUR quite affordable.”

“No, Madam, unfortunately I wouldn’t know about the prices of Command Ships.”

“I am afraid the ‘Graeve’ boots only come with heels. But if Madam would care to try them on - she would surely find them to her pleasing.”

“Five minutes - considering the exclusivity of our items, Madam will understand that we just can't put them on the shelves, for anybody to take.”

“Madam is correct about the safety scanner at the entrance, but one can’t be too careful in these trying times, yes?”

“Those? Those are ‘Trench’ boots, patterned after the footwear of soldiers millenia past. Crafted of genuine calfskins, reinforced around the foot and supple at the ankle, these boots won’t let you down!”

“I’m afraid that is not possible - while Madam is, well, female, these boots aren’t.”

“To my deepest regret, the question whether feet are feet is outside of my area of expertise. Now if Madam would be so kind and remove her hands from my throat?”

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a Snowball Refrigeration Module is not in the line-up for the Noble Exchange. And if I may be so bold, I have my doubts it is ever going to be.”

“Madam, while I do enjoy the occasional snowball fight like the common man, may I remind Madam that the Noble Exchange deals in fashion?”

“My deepest apologies, Madam, but I really have to ask Madam to leave now.”

“A nice day to you, too, Madam.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Walk in a Station

With a last shudder, the FF Duolith nestled into its berth in our home station, and the engines of the Obelisk-class freighter fell silent. I issued some final commands to have the collected ore transferred towards the station’s refining facilities, then began the not-too-pleasant process of unpodding. Automated systems disentangled my pod from the ship - this hadn’t changed - and then moved it towards my quarters.

Correction: towards my Captains Quarters, Minmatar issue. Guaranteed to give every slightly claustrophobic capsuleer an anxiety attack, especially when returning from the Big Void. Heck, I had seen slave quarters more luxurious! And there was this door, closed “due to ongoing construction”. Supposedly it would open one day soon, revealing new station establishments worthy the rank and riches of a capsuleer. Until then, we were asked to wait in patience.

Well, at least we were given a couch to wait on.

Luckily the station commanders everywhere shared such sentiments, or at least missed the ISK we capsuleers used to leave in their stations. As a result, private gliders had shown up at hangar balconies, “compliments of the station”, to whisk us away to whichever part of the station piqued our interest.

In my case, I was simply heading towards the nearest station access port, to take the transports towards our corporate headquarters. A ‘State of the Corp’ meeting was on the agenda for today, which sounded grander that it was: in general, these meetings were just an excuse to get together and shoot the breeze, as well as breezing through some shots.

Walking from the glider to the nearest transport belt, my attention was invariably drawn to the monitors showing the latest news and advertisements. Apparently the militias had picked up the gauntlet which Pandemic Legion had thrown down in in the factional warzone, with the militias actually getting some kills against PL. Still - Supercaps in Lo-Sec just rubbed me wrong.

Heck, it was wrong, front and back.

It meant that the 0-sec regulations introduced just a year ago had truly sucked the life out of the sovereignty warfare, with its participants now seeking their kicks in lo-sec. And the instance in charge, the Concordiat, was more interested in pouring its funds into their ‘New Capsuleer Recruitment’ programs.

Not that I disagreed with the New Capsuleer drive in principle - the pool of pilots who could handle a Capsuleer’s life in its current form was pretty much exhausted, and in order to draw in new blood, increasing degrees of handholding were unavoidable. But at the same time, the slashing of funding across the board was making it ever more difficult to retain veteran pilots: to name just one example, the explorers amongst us were yearning for new regions of space to explore - something only a properly funded DED could unlock. And if veteran pilots like that handed in their licenses and stopped paying the associated fees, there was a good chance that the Concordiat would go bankrupt before their New Capsuleer plans came to fruition.

Talk about a waste of potential awesomeness.

However, that possibility was still very far down the road. For the moment, the Capsuleer’s Council - though 0-sec heavy in composition- was making progress in lobbying the Concordiat to restore at least some of the original funding. And as long as the Council would continue pushing, our way of life might still be saved, in one form or other.

And in the meantime, I would keep flying. Not just to show that the Council was indeed representing active capsuleers, or because there were still goals I intended to achieve in New Eden, for myself and for the Corp, but mostly...

An announcement interrupted my musings - it was time to debark.

Hopping off the transport, it was only a few steps towards our headquarters. When I entered, I could hear the voices coming from the common room, telling about their latest adventures, big and small.

In the end, my reason to continue as capsuleer came down to this simple thing: People. Not just my corp mates and family, but also all the hostiles past and future. Every encounter, good or bad, added to our lives, let us grow - and in the process, we wrote New Eden’s history, the only history it would ever have.

And as far as I was concerned, that was reason enough to keep undocking for.