Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Question Of Location

The crowd on the neighbouring table turned a bit rowdy, and I found it harder to concentrate on my data pad. Because, even though I decided to give the combat pilot’s life an honest try (after all it’s been only four years), the ISK has to come from somewhere. In my case, that meant overseeing a small gaggle of PI colonies. And even though those colonies could run themselves for quite a while, once in a week I did have to look after them.

“No, no - I tell you: Home is where I kick off my shoes after a long walk!”

“You don’t walk - you fly. In your pod!”

“I know - I was, whatsit, figuratively speaking.”

I grimaced, and gestured to a waiter to refill my glass. I don’t know what got the table next to me to discuss the question of ‘Home’ in the context of capsuleers, but they were going at it with gusto.

Just now, one was declaring that he had no real home, that instead he was just like a Gypsy, flitting from here to there.

I snorted - that guy was obviously kidding himself: he just hadn’t yet found the right place to call ‘home’. Yet, at the same time... no, hold that thought.

I looked again at my data pad: overall the colonies were running fine, if at a somewhat unexpectedly low level of revenue. Maybe it was that I was used to the high levels of income back in the old days, but still: I would have to adjust my expectations.

And add an advanced factory here... and there. It wasn’t much, but seeing that I hard time finding people willing to blow me up over the recent days, it probably would suffice.

Heck, even my sec status had increased by 0.2 points over the last days, because I had found nothing but Blood Raiders to shoot!

An instruction here, another instruction there, and my colonies were it tip-top shape again. Now, what else?

Just a mail from my sis, informing me that the next batch of her reactions would be finishing in a couple of days, so that I could expect my share of the profits to be transferred soon after. And that of course she’d no longer keep our associate on retainer.

I grimaced, and took a draught my glass. I knew that Eta wasn’t the type for hidden meanings, but nonetheless I was reminded of what a mistake it had been to mix business with pleasure. Not for the first time I vowed to never let that happen again.

What, why is the glass empty already? Waiter!

“You’re all wrong! The question is not what is your home, rather it is what you make your home!”

I glanced at the table next to me: while I didn’t recognize the speaker right away, he did sound familiar. Plus, not many pilots did wear hats inside establishments. And he was right.

Yet, he knew only half of it. You don’t know what your real home is until you lose it.

Just look at the Flyers which I had headed for the good part of three years (rather unsuccessfully, I was ready to admit). While we had had our HQ, it didn’t really matter where it was: what mattered was where the bulk of our people were: 0-sec, wormholes, our little hi-sec area next to lo-sec - you name it.

I took a drought in remembrance - it had been good times.

But... it was the loss which hurt. Ever since the majority of driving people of the Flyers either went dirtside, or left to pursue their own interests, the corporation had withered on the vine.

Not that I blamed them - it had been a step long overdue. But at the same time it was telling that the majority of my ship hulls were back in our former stomping grounds, unfitted. Though Petidu was supposedly my new home, all I had stored here was some loot, and a Harbinger. Otherwise I lived in my Purifier, flitting from system to system, ever searching for the elusive prey, and I could count on one hand the number of nights I had spent in Petidu.

I had even dropped all corp roles some weeks ago. If it hadn’t been for our shared history...

Morosely I looked at the glass on my table, and then emptied it in one long draught, dropping it back on the table upside down; then clapped my hands together, and stood up, not even glancing at all the strangers around me.

“Time to get back to work!”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back To Work


As the elevator counted down the numbers, I flexed my hands again, watching my slender fingers move. The meds at the clinic had done good work, healing out the scrapes and blisters they had received over the last days.

...5 .

Unceremoniously the elevator doors slid apart, and I exited onto the capsuleer’s quarters level of the Freedom Extension Storage’s station in Petidu. As it befitted a Minmatar station, even the capsuleer levels extruded the charm of a steel building in an advanced state of decay. The only difference to the common levels was that the capsuleer levels were sporting a carefully monitored layer of actual rust, whereas the rest of the station had to make due with sprayed-on rust imitate.

Minmatar are weird.

But they put on interesting sporting events, like the Petidu Peak Melee, into which I had been roped in to help with operations. I couldn’t quite remember the how and why - in fact, the whole last week was a blur.

I did remember walking much, usually with heavy loads, and when I walked into the clinic this morning, I had acquired quite a collection of scabs. And as the meds informed me, at some point I must have stumbled into a poisonous plant as well. Repeatedly.

But was most present in my recollection was the fact how trusting the baseliners were with each other, despite the competitive nature of the event. So unlike us pod pilots, who would check each other for hidden weaponry even if we were stark naked.

It had been refreshing.

But as the bulkheads to my quarters ground open and I caught sight of my Purifier on the holo display, I fell in love with space all over again.

Two worlds, forever in collision.

Dropping my pack on the floor, I made myself comfortable on the couch and grabbed the controls for the viewscreen.

“Let’s see how many kills I now have to catch up to...”, I murmured to myself while pulling up the alliance’s killboard.

Hmm.. ok, two kills for the alliance at large, in our old home area. As for losses... about the same.

Oh, look, Mildly Intoxicated blew up an alliance tower in E-Y a week ago. Guess our blue standings no longer applied.

But nothing for the corp itself. Nor were there mails.


Shutting off the viewscreen, I rose and headed to the food terminal, and ordered myself a half-measure of an ale I had been introduced to over the last week. While the system was working on my order, I undressed, throwing my clothes onto the sad excuse this Minmatar station had to offer for a bed.

When my drink arrived, I downed it in one draw, and clapped my hands together.

“Back to work!”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Almost, But Not Quite, Like The Old Me

[ That’d be 68,848 ISK.]

Good - this was actually less than I feared the repairs to my armor could have cost. While a Purifier is fast and nimble enough to easily evade a Sansha Lord’s lasers, the same can not be said for same Sansha Lord’s cruise missiles. Add in a couple of asteroids to kill your transversal, and you could end up quickly in a dead Purifier. If it hadn’t been for my Ancillary Shield Booster - an on-the-spot decision, which required gimping my tackle abilities - that specific fate would have visited me as well.

Speaking of which.... no. The closest station to sell more cap charges was seven jumps away, and I was in no mood for the round trip. The remaining full load would have to suffice. With my lack of skills, I’d be going to die with that load untouched anyway.

I transmitted the payment, and undocked as soon as the payment cleared.Traffic outside the station was virtually non-existant, and ordered my Purifier to head to the gate leading back into low security space.

The last couple of weeks were still a kind of a blur. I did remember sitting in a bar, waiting to meet a militia recruiter - only the next day to awake to be in a newly-founded combat corp, but still in the same alliance. Granted, this corp was run by a former corp member of mine, which may have swayed my assessment, but the choice had been somewhat surprising nonetheless.

Oh, Hi! Don’t mind me, you two Bestowers - I had learned the hard way that a frigate hull can’t withstand gate guns. Not even when the only objective is to get the target into aggressing, so that a gang member could take him out (which didn’t happen either).

Jump! Warp!

Hmm, neat! One Bestower must have jumped shortly before me, because we managed to enter warp together, and he actually kept pace for a few seconds before falling back.

But if I were honest to myself, just being in a mostly-combat corp wasn’t doing it after all. While I liked the people, it was again me by myself in my waking cycle. And while I was being honest to myself, let’s put the finger on it: I was tired of being just a gang member. All my so-called combat prowess had been in gangs, with other folks doing the heavy lifting.

Welcome again, Bestower. I knew you’d be travelling through this gate. Shall we race again to the next one? Yes? Yes.

But maybe I was hobbling myself - not even hanging out in the main operation area of our corp. Just look at it: the whole of my contributions to our corporation’s honor record was a loss against a mere vexor.

Of course it didn’t help that I was on a crusade to learn the ins and outs of the Purifier. Even if so far it had been the outs. And lots of empty systems with no targets.

And thus, while I appreciated the gesture, I really didn’t see me flying a Phantasm anytime soon. Even if the BPC had been provided as courtesy.

Beat you again, Bestower! Another rematch, so that you can tell your folks in the VCRUZ alliance how a Purifier shadowed you?

And that’s why I was currently staging out of a wormhole, where ... wait a second. I saw you before, today, VCRUZ alliance. In that very wormhole I was currently squatting in. You had a Helios probing, which I failed to get because I warped to the wrong bookmark.

Were you maybe scouting out a resupply route?

Screw the race gate to gate: if I were right, I had only small window to get to the wormhole entrance without you seeing me.

Gate! Jump!

Initiate warp to the WH entrance! Cloak!

As I sped away, the sensors reported the gate firing.

Dropping out of warp right on top of the WH. A quick interdimensional travel later, I took up station just a few klicks away from the connection. And waited.

And waited some more.

Had I been wrong? Or did they maybe see me and waited for me to lose patience? Would this be another day without even a single targeting attempt?

A signal flashed on my sensors - the WH just wobbled, indicating the passage of a ship.

Oh ho! Oh ho ho! There you are, Bestower! Just a few klicks from me!

You’re mine!

The mental instructions flowed quickly: a command to the auto-piloting system to enter a tight orbit around the target, to keep within point range for now. Cloak disengaged, damage control unit erecting force fields inside my ship’s structure, target lock resolved, the warp disruptor oh-so-rudely emitting its unique brand of subspace noise.

The ship shaking from the launch of the torpedoes.

Full hit!

But the Bestower was still alive. My mental eyes were glued on the data readouts while the batteries pulled the next batch of torpedoes out of their magazines.


...and the torpedoes had covered just about half the distance when the Bestower entered warp.

A quick check of the weapons logs confirmed that I had had a point on the Bestower for at least 8 seconds. Which could mean only one thing: Stabs!


Still, I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony.