Saturday, 31 January 2009

Beating the Odds v2

Much love to my former alliance-mates in Atrocitas for their win in the tourney this afternoon.

I knew you guys could do it! \o/

Friday, 30 January 2009

I'm in ur blogosphere, hijackin' ur Blog Banter (4)

This month’s EVE Blog Banter comes to us from Manasi from A Mule in EvE.

Manasi asks: “How do we, EVE bloggers, adapt to changes as they are thrust upon us (speed changes, no more ghost training, all the dev blogs, etc), or as our lives make playing the game different (more time, less time)?”
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The changes I've experienced since I started playing began with a nerf on certain ships' drone capabilities. I was a bit disappointed, since at the time I had a ratting base in a quiet corner of lower Syndicate and it cut my ability to chuck heavy drones at bs rats from my Myrmidon. That was fine by me, since I discovered I could pack a hell of a lot of medium and small drones into the Myrm's bay without a flight of ogres taking up the space. It seemed everyone else who flew Gallente was bitching, while I, who hadn't been playing long enough to have a set of tactics and expectations ingrained, simply shrugged and adopted new tactics. The change came hand-in-hand with shiny new graphics, so I wasn't particularly fussed.

Quite a few of the changes since then haven't really affected me, as a player. There was the nerf on security status, boosting the cost of engaging and killing; my response was well, fuck it, then, I'll stay outlaw; I have alts for highsec, anyway. If anything, it would be nice if I didn't have to pod so many people to get down to true -10 status. A pirate's gotta eat, ya know! It just seems a shame that the Weekend Warriors of Eve appear to have died out as a result, now that an afternoon's lowsec ratting isn't enough to repair two days' just-for-fun sec-wrecking.

I think the speed nerf was a great idea and had a positive affect on combat. It was easy to adapt to, and has (I think) increased the need for strategy and tactics when going into engagements. People will always be after the best win-button ship and setup, but QR balanced that out. Anything which kicks powergaming in the arse is brilliant, as far as I'm concerned ^_^

Ghost-training was never something I engaged in. Killing that did seem a bit like a money-grubbing tactic on CCP's part, but it also increased the investment people have to put into making capital-ship alts, again kicking the powergamer aspect a bit.

I'm glad they caved in to popular demand and let non-combat capitals stay in highsec. I have encountered (and spent half an hour orbiting) the Veldnaught while Chribba bantered cheerfully in Amarr local. Carebears make the world go round, and they should get to keep their highsec shinies.

Dev-blogs. I have to admit, I don't read these as much as I ought to. I think largely these are used to create a sounding-board from the player-base and get a feel for how well or poorly things will be received. QED: changes which do not go through Dev-blogs and are implemented without advance warning tend not to be so popular (see above regarding highsec capital ships). It's nice to know what our 'gods' are doing to enhance our experience of the world we're creating together. I shall repeat that: the world the Devs and players create. Without the player-base, the world is an empty shell; i.e. a failure. That's the last thing the Devs want, so of course they're going to keep lines of communication open. After all, it's not nice to the kids if you suddenly pour water into the sandbox to make it a swimming-pool instead.

Real Life issues. I'll admit, I'm on Eve more than I ought to be. I have coursework I ought to be doing, and even using the 'it's a shiny MSN!' excuse doesn't fly when you're browsing the virtual market in lieu of finishing that overdue report. My method of dealing with the RL-Eve interactions is simply to work with the situations. I do my coursework in college, away from the distractions at home (if I didn't have Eve, it'd be a book/sketchbook/Photoshop/dvd, so there's little sense pointing fingers at the game). If I'm away from an Eve-capable computer for three weeks (as happened last summer) then I set long skills and use MSN/Facebook/Jabber to chat with people instead. If I lack money... let's put it this way, my gaming bills cost me less than what most other people spend on alcohol in the same amount of time. I try to balance things as much as possible, and it seems to work for the most part.

In the end, changes to the game are there to stay, with the odd exception. I welcome them: they encourage players to think, adapt and develop new ways of doing what they want in Eve. They keep gameplay from becoming so routine that players don't have to think. The only way to stay at the front of the pack is to keep your mind open and go with the flow.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Looking For Space

The next day, I called a friend.

I did wait until afternoon, according to my internal clock. A lot of pilots keep various and sometimes insane hours. Sure enough, when he answered the call and the visual snapped on, the other pilot was bare-chested, his long features looking rather bedraggled and a bit hung-over. Though he may simply not have had his morning coffee by that point.

Sard Caid scrubbed a hand over his face and squinted blearily into the camera. 'Shae. How goes?'

I smiled, discreetly admiring the view -- sexy, shirtless Sebiestor, rrrrr. 'You look like something the cat dragged in.'

He pulled a face. 'As long as it kills the cat, why not?'

'You're so heartless,' I sighed in mock-sorrow. 'I was wondering, sweetie, if you would be amenable to showing a girl around Molden Heath sometime. I'm feeling a bit third-wheelish out here.'

After a moment spent blinking at me through the feed, the Minmatar pilot threw his head back in manic laughter, one hand pressed to his forehead. I raised my eyebrows at him and waited. 'Ohhh, crap, man!' he gasped when he'd calmed down a bit. 'I was just trying to figure out how to lure you out here into some solo and small gang fun...'

Still chuckling, he rubbed at the corner of his eye, then reached out of view of the feed. I heard keys tapping and an invitation to an intel channel popped up in the corner of the screen. 'Channel I just invited you to can be used for calls for backup, however lately it's been dead. Populated by pirates with a common cause: yarr.' Sard produced a grin that would have made a demon envious. 'I base myself out of Egbinger, so I can help you set up if you decide to do the same. I'll give you a general run down of the region and surrounding space when you have time.'

I felt a smile tug at the corner of my mouth as I called up maps on my computer and started looking over travel routes and area statistics; the mad, reckless smile that seems to scare people. 'It's just that I could use a change of scenery for a little, maybe keep a jumpclone out there for the times I just need a break. I remember you mentioned you feel a little lonely sometimes, so I thought maybe we could do a bit of roaming together.'

Sard was rubbing out a kink in his neck. 'Well hon, I found the solo life drew me away from my peers, but hopefully it won't be the same for you... I know you love flying with the Bastards.'

I glanced up from the maps. 'It's a blast, but... I've never done any solo work before. Sometimes I feel like I'm not a proper pilot because I've never gone into a fight without backup.'

'It's rather exhilarating the first few weeks you're at it. Even the ganks.' The other pilot's mouth curved down in disapproval as my ginger tabby cat hopped onto the desk beside me and sniffed at the vidcomm.

'Well, you tell me what's best-suited for small-gang and solo work out there, I'll move some gear out your way,' I said, already plotting a shopping-list in my head.

'Just tell me you're not bringing that thing with you.'

'You punt my kitty, I break your toys,' I answered mildly, rubbing Asa's head with my knuckles. She purred loudly, nearly drowning out Sard's snort.

'Right, I gotta go. I'll be on comms later if you want me to give you a brief rundown.'

'Alrighty. Thanks, sweetie.' I gave him a wink and he grinned back as we closed comms.

After a few minutes' work, made easier when the Contracts pages flashed for my attention, announcing that Sard had left me a small selection of solo-capable ships in the nearest highsec system to Egbinger, I placed another call to a mercenary hauler who'd done work for me on occasion.

'Ohhh it's you. Wassup, pirate scum?' Lara chirped.

'Got a bit of shopping needs to be done.' I sent the list over and she eyed it, then looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

'Thought ya already had a stash of this stuff.'

'It's not coming to Evati.' I explained the situation, asked if she could manage moving the contracted ships as well, and watched the numbers tick over in her head.

'Double me usual rates, sugar. It's hostile territ'ry you're asking me to go into there.' Lara was already calling up maps of her own off-feed.

'Done. And thanks.'

She laughed, pixie features crinkling cheerfully. 'It's what you pay me for, innit?'

I leaned back in my chair after I transferred the money and signed off, and stretched. I really had no idea what I was doing. It wasn't the first time I'd set up a secondary base for myself separate from the alliance home system; the last time, things hadn't gone so well, but I'd been impulsive and inexperienced. Now I was impulsive and experienced, and I wondered if that would make any difference at all.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Beating the Odds

I'm going to take a short break from my normal posting to celebrate my boys' win in their first tournament engagement vs KIA.

Good showing, mates \o/

Addendum:
Kil2 just suggested we'll be taking the tourney. \m/

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Midnight in the Hub

The bar The Bastards frequented was bustling and busy this time of the night, full of raucous pirates, ladies hopeful to catch their roving eyes, and slummers who'd come down to rub shoulders with the riffraff who contributed to a substantial portion of their paychecks. Mynxee was off somewhere, doing something -- heaven knew what the girl got up to on her down-time -- and I'd successfully found a relatively quiet corner table to relax at after a gruelling training session in preparation for the Alliance Tournament.

I was curled up on my chair -- I've never been one to sit reasonably at the table, so I had my boots off and one leg tucked under myself, the other propped on the chair so I could rest my chin on my knee -- with a cup of coffee slowly cooling in front of me and my notepad open so I could work on the next part of a story I'd been writing and publishing on the public journal I've been keeping. I'd been drawing a bit earlier, but my heart wasn't in it.

People largely left me alone, here. The men quickly learned it was foolish to treat me like the other women who frequented the place, and the women weren't interested. The bartender had long since stopped looking surprised that my coffee consumption far outweighted my alcohol purchases and had acquired a special cup just for me from somewhere; it was white, with a cartoon of a pale blue squid holding out its tentacles for a hug, cartoon hearts and everything. It was incredibly cute, but I hadn't been able to resist telling the bartender, 'You know... everyone wants squiddy love, but nobody wants a beak-job...'.

A shadow fell across the table, and I glanced up. It was The Bastards' own Flashfresh, frosted bottle in hand, looking at me quizzically.

'Shae.'

'Heya, Flash.' I gestured to the other chair. ''Sup, mate?'

He dropped into the seat, made himself comfortable and took a swig from the bottle before looking at me over the rim of his shades. I hadn't noticed before that his eyes were that shade of brown, nearly golden, but that could simply have been that he never took the shades off.

'You feeling alright?'

Flash never used two words when one would do. I shrugged and sipped my coffee, enjoying the taste.

'You seemed irritated after training. And you've barely been active for the last month or so. Is something going on?'

'It must be bad, you're the fifth person to comment on that, and the last guy who said anything isn't even in the alliance.'

'Shae...'

I sighed and put the notepad down. 'I dunno. About tonight... meh. You and I both know there's no chance of me flying with you guys in the tourney, but I'm happy to help test your setups. It's just... lately I've just been feeling like everyone's favourite punching-bag. I really hope Jed wasn't serious about hanging that one killmail on her wall...'

Flash chuckled. 'I have no idea.'

'Freaky Amarrians, man.' We drank in shared silence for a moment while the bar rumbled around us.

'I had a lot of heavy losses toward the end of the year. I've bounced back fast, with the alliance's help.' I nodded to him. 'But... maybe I've just decided to take a break, without realising it. I know, it worries me, too, that I've not felt like getting in on the action. I think maybe I just got too cocky, made bad calls. I'm still trying to bring my new Hype's crew up to operational optimal, but hiring down here is tough. And we've had a lot of new people around the alliance. The My First Bastards guys... I don't know them enough to feel comfortable on their runs.'

Flash ran one hand over his shaved bonce. 'A lot of little things, all at once, huh? Maybe you just need a change, Shae.'

I grinned. 'That's what I was thinking, too. And I think I know just the man to call.'

Monday, 19 January 2009

Thicker Than Blood: Chapter Six

Four weeks ago...

The Sunburst was Flaschmann's pet project, a bar for capsuleers burrowed in the depths of the station the Blackball Rocketeers based from in Stacmon. The layout was station-basic -- an extended, bowed rectangle with the entrance positioned roughly at the midpoint of the inner curve -- but Flasch had installed raised and lowered floors, domed niches and curtain-walling to break up the monotony, with varied levels of gold-hued lighting promoting social activity or intimacy in different areas.

The walls had been plastered and painted a deep cinnabar, giving the room the feel of being planetside rather than suspended in stationary orbit above a moon. Lurking beneath gold-leafed industrial metalwork arches strung with tiny lights to the right of the door, the bar snaked along the inner curve of the room, its far end tailing off in a semicircular island projecting into the space; at the opposite end of the room, a stage had been set up, raised high enough above the main floor to preclude audience intervention, and lit so that the display could be viewed from the furthest reaches of the bar. Thin wisps of smoke pungent with substances both legal and illicit drifted throughout the space; the smell of spiced, roasted meats hung redolent in the air near the door to the kitchen at the back.

Val paused in the entry, breathing in deeply, then relaxed, feeling the torpor of a lazy visit home dropping away like a shed skin. Momentarily entranced by the sinuous curves of the two dancers on the stage moving in time to the music, he didn't at first notice the man who had entered the bar behind him; now the other jogged his elbow and repeated, 'Jack?'

He started and turned in surprise, then grinned. 'Miska. How's it going?'

The older Amarrian nodded. 'Not bad, not bad. You seemed a bit... absorbed,' he commented, a mischievous smile crinkling the corners of his eyes as he gestured towards the stage. 'One might think you hadn't been planetside on a Gallente world for a few days.'

Val shrugged. 'There's a big difference between training and natural talent. It looks so much better when it's not flawless.'

The men appreciated the display a moment more, then Miska tilted his head towards the bar. 'Join me for a drink?'

They claimed a table in a niche along the outer curve of the room and Miska lit a cigarette from the candle in the centre, inhaling and sighing out an aromatic plume as he relaxed into his chair. 'Rough day. Nearly lost my ship twice. Damned Serpentis don't know when to give up, I think, sometimes. So how was your trip? Where did you go?'

Val sipped his drink. 'I was back visiting my dad... only meant it to be a few hours, then back into space, but he insisted I stay longer. It was good to be back for a bit, but I felt well out of place. It was weird.'

The older man grinned on a mouthful of smoke. 'You've come a long way in the last month and a half, Jack. Fresh out of the Navy, you were. Would it have felt like home then?'

Giving it some thought, Val frowned. 'Maybe. Maybe I just thought that was what home felt like.' He shook his head: it was getting far too philosophical for his comfort.

The Amarrian rested his elbow on the table, holding his cigarette at eye-level, and watched smoke curl from its end. 'In life, there are many stages. We do not remain always who we think we are. Seven years ago, I served the Emperor faithfully. I had a wife, children. Honour.' A regretful smile crossed his face; it was gone so quickly Val wondered if he'd imagined it.

'What... what happened?'

Miska gave a laugh and drew on his cigarette. 'I am as you see me. New name, new life.' He gestured to the thick scarring which pulled down the outer corner of his right eye and tugged his upper lip into what could almost be mistaken for a sneer. 'I even have a new face.' The older man looked amused, but it was clear he had nothing more to say about it.

Val looked down thoughtfully, his youthful face pinching into a frown; he went so still he scarcely seemed to breathe. Miska looked at him curiously. 'I changed my name,' he murmured, finally, 'but it wasn't enough.'

'Pardon?'

Glancing up from his drink, the younger man explained, 'I'm in trouble. Maybe. Because of who I'm related to, not something I've done. Dad's... semi-important, and some people wish he wasn't.'

'You left the Navy to escape that?' Miska sipped his drink absently, paying more attention to Val's words than to what was in his cup.

Val shook his head. 'I left because I was asked to, to do... something. Didn't stop to wonder why at the time, it just seemed to make sense.'

The Amarrian quirked his unscarred eyebrow. 'I see.'

'They've been after my sister, too... that's what they wanted me to do, to find her for them. I think she's safe for now... I'd've heard about it if they caught her. I'm afraid if I contact her at all now, if I pop that... safety bubble... they'll try to use her.'

Miska's other eyebrow rose to join the first. 'Oh?'

The Gallente took a moment to collect his thoughts. 'While I was there, Dad was preparing for a major vote, something to do with surveillance oversight and citizen tracking. It's a big issue, really, um... what's the word...?'

'Divisive?' Miska supplied.

'Well, it is that, definitely. Dad would be well against the proposal, and he's pretty much a crux-point on the issue.'

'I thought the Federation was wholly democratic?'

Val shrugged and ran his fingers back through his hair. 'It's a security issue, so the council members are elected by the people, then they handle everything internally. If an issue hits a fifty-fifty snag, it goes to a public referendum.'

'And the people would hardly accept a policy which invades their privacy,' the older man finished. 'I see. That's what your father wants to happen, yes? And it's fairly obvious where the other council members are voting, then?'

'Not really; there are a few other moderates who are sitting on the fence, they're also being bullied.' Val sighed and leaned back in his chair, staring up at the amber glass of the lamp drifting suspended in its own antigrav field above the table. 'It's pretty ugly with infighting. Gallente politics is hardly as straightforward as it likes to say it is. Politicians seem to have shorter life spans, for no apparent reason. Especially if they're outspoken and radical.' Like Dad, he didn't add, but the thought was clear on his face.

The Amarrian looked surprised. 'So no people for the people, then?'

'People for their own people, more like.' The younger man looked tired. 'Sir, can I ask a favour of you?'

Miska shrugged. 'You can ask anything. Whether I agree depends on what you ask.'

'It's nothing principle-violating. My Dad said something, that I'm too trusting to be caught in this sort of mess. Can you tell me if there's something... anything... glaringly obvious that I seem to be missing? Anything that seems wrong? Can.. I trust you?' Val asked, knowing he was verging on offending the proud Amarrian.

Miska went quiet for a while as they finished their drinks, his eyes narrowed thoughtfully but focussed on nothing in particular. At last he said, 'I can do that. May I first suggest you find a new agent to work with? Anyone under Gallente orders could easily set you up. There's a Minmatar office in the system here you can talk to.'

The younger man nodded. 'I was considering that. Thanks, sir.'

The older man smiled and stubbed out the remains of his cigarette in the dish provided; the charred paper and leaf residue disintegrated to nothing on the corrosive surface. 'Talk to Flasch about standings if you need them. Corp meeting soon. You coming?'

Val nodded and rose to follow him out towards the bank of lifts in the concourse; the dancers blew kisses as they passed.

As they waited for a car to arrive, Miska seemed to come to a decision. Turning to Val, the older man said, 'Did you never think the political things might be why your sister left the Navy?'

The Gallente's jaw dropped. 'I'm sorry... how do you...'

'She was based here a while with her mercenary friends. You look a bit like her. To find out why you looked familiar, Jack, was not hard.' Miska looked serious. 'You're right. Changing your name, it was not enough. In the corp, you can trust the directors. We are mercenary, but we look after our own. Some newer members, maybe not so much. If you think there's trouble, talk to one of us.'

A lift car arrived, the door sliding open silently. After a moment's hesitation, Val followed the older man in, feeling somehow both more secure and painfully exposed.

Next Chapter

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A Little Bit of Low Sec is Good for the Soul

'Yes? I'm busy, just now... Who?... Her standings are a bit poor. ... Yes, yes, I'm aware of that. Very well, send her in.'

I stood in the outer office, staring at the Slays starscape in the fake window -- really a feed connected to a camera mounted somewhere on the skin of the station -- behind the secretary's desk, feeling both nervous and annoyed. After flying with Under the Wings of Fury for a couple weeks, my standings with Centre for Advanced Studies had taken quite a hit thanks to killing one too many of their idiot students in the nearby nullsec regions. I didn't want to hurt my standings too much -- I bought my skillbooks from these people, after all. I needed this agent to give me a chance.

The secretary returned, mincing delicately in stiletto heels and a skirt too tight for her curves. 'He'll see you now, Pilot Tiann.' I gave her a tight smile, thanked her politely even though she was clearly no longer concerned with me, and went through into the agent's office.

Ivonalle Galelare looked up from the computer terminal inset into his desk as I entered, giving me such a thorough once-over that I may as well have stripped naked right there. Instead, I came to attention -- no salute, he wasn't military -- and kept a straight face as I said, 'Thank you for seeing me, sir.'

Softened, too-perfect features which looked disturbingly underage regarded me impassively. The he snorted and gestured carelessly at the chair placed before the desk. 'Sit down, Pilot.' As I made myself as comfortable as possble, he said, 'You're here for an underlying reason. I don't care what it is. People like you only come to me when you want something to do.' Galelare spoke with a casual attitude, not caring if his words offended me or not.

'Now, you...' He aimed the first and middle fingers of his right hand in my direction. 'Your standings, Pilot, are shit. You have a bad record here, and the only reason I agreed to see you is that my superior sees your father as someone to support. If I had to tell him I turned you away, it would look bad. Do I make myself clear?'

Politics. It gets into everything, like sand at the beach. I mirrored his bland, unconcerned expression. 'Perfectly clear.'

After a moment more spent regarduing me through narrowed eyes, the agent leaned back in his chair and tapped a couple times at the terminal. 'Word's just come in that the Serpentis have attacked one of our people who was on a routine survey patrol. He's not lucky enough to be immortal like you lot-' the agent gave me a baleful look '-and it's my unfortunate duty to inform his wife and family that he won't be coming home tonight. We have the location of a Serpentis base in a nearby system; I want you to go over and make an example of it so I can tell the widow that his loss has been avenged.' Galelare raised his eyes to mine. 'Do you have a problem with this assignment, Miss Tiann?'

I shook my head. 'No, sir. I'll take care of it.'

'Good.' He tossed a chip across the desk; I caught it. 'The location bookmark is on there. System is Iges, you have two hours. Don't come back to me unless you have something good to report.'

-----------

Iges. Iges was a low-security system a jump away from UWoF's base in Stacmon. I was still a relatively unskilled pilot; low-sec made me nervous as anything, and the shallow end of Syndicate was home to capsuleer pirates. I debated my options, then had the hangar crews prep my Vexor. The drones, I thought, would help speed things up.

I was nervous, now, and not in the same way I'd been when I went to meet the agent in Slays. Low-sec was unpredictable. There was nobody else from my alliance who was around to help me, and I was feeling very alone as I eyed the system maps. Three pilots in Iges, and that was three too many. I called Suze.

Suze'Rain was an acquaintance I'd made through friends nearly a year earlier; I'd suffered a girlish crush on the dour Caldari pilot for a bit, but I'd been seeing the son of a Poteque pharmaceutical technician at the time and suppressed the attraction before I did anything regrettable. Suze was a fun person to be around, with a dark, cynical sense of very twisted humour and excellent taste in music. He'd been an independant pilot for some years already, and was only too happy to come on comms and coach me through things whilst still being on training duty for The Grey Academy half the galaxy away.

'There are three pilots in Iges, yes, but two of them are docked up. That's only one in space that you have to worry about, and there hasn't been much traffic lately -- see the option titled "jumps in the last hour"? You should be fine getting in, just warp to the bookmark straight away.' Suze's posh accent was reassuring in my ear. I knew he was too far away to help if I needed it, but it was nice to know I wasn't wholly on my own.

Iges, when I entered, had acquired an additional local, but the gate was clear. I keyed in the location I'd been given and initiated warp to zero km. The bubble popped, dropping me on top of a Serpentis patrol, and I set about with railguns flaring.

'Do you have your scanner open, Shae? Keep an eye on that, keep refreshing it. It'll tell you if there's anyone trying to probe you out,' Suze warned. 'Those Hammerheads of yours are like a great big sign advertising an all-you-can-shoot buffet.'

'Oh, brilliant,' I muttered. Every ten seconds or so I ran a scan on everything in the system within 14 AU, even as I dispatched pirate frigates. A blip on my system overview made me look twice. 'What's that?'

'What? What's what?' Suze sounded a bit alarmed; perhaps I might have been, as well, hed I his experience.

'Cyno... cynosural field?' I said distractedly, attempting to nail down another Serpentis frigate.

'Oh shit. Check your scanner, Shae!'

I was trapped in the middle of the fight, now engaged at close range with a pirate in a cruiser which was hammering into my ship's armour-tank with everything he had. Another Serpentis frigate exploded as my drones swarmed it like a flight of angry bees. Multitasking was difficult, and I suddenly noticed that the local population of capsuleers had risen by ten.

'What's a Cheetah?' I asked, spotting the new ship on the scanner as it cycled again.

'Covert ops. Get out of there!' The Caldari's voice sounded strained; most likely, he was wishing he was down there to help me rather than being stuck at the AIAA offices in Korsiki.

'I have to finish this,' I protested. The pirate cruiser finally exploded, but there were more frigates coming at me and I still had to destroy their base.

'Then do it quickly. Don't bother salvaging.'

Risking another glance at the scanner, I saw something else I didn't recognise. 'What's an Archon?'

I could practically hear Suze's eyes fall out of his head over the comms link. 'It's a carrier. Fuck, you stubborn cow, don't stay in there!'

'I'm only in a Vexor... they wouldn't consider me worth hunting down, would they?'

'That depends on who they are. Link pilot names when you can.'

I finished off the last pirate frigate and powered toward the Serpentis habitat module anchored to a nearby asteroid, sending the drones ahead. 'ID links coming now...'

Suze coughed. 'They're nasty, you really don't want to be in there Shae.'

'Almost done here...'

'Great, great. Finish it off and scram. Any probes on scan?'

I checked. 'No...'

'Doesn't mean anything, they could be using the 20AU variety and you'd never know til it was too late.'

The habitat module blew with a spectacular fireball and shockwave of ignited pressurised gases. 'Right, I'm done here.'

'Pull your drones and go, girl, you don't want to get caught.'

I made it out of Iges intact, though somewhat shaken. It wasn't the first time I'd been in the same system as a capital ship, though the ones I'd seen before were friendlies. I somewhat doubted that I'd been in as much danger as Suze had thought -- he was known to be a little more on the paranoid side than I was -- but it had still been nerve-wracking.

Galelare eyed me critically when I appeared in the doorway to his office.

'Well?'

'It's done.' I folded my arms, well aware of the effect that would have with the close-fitting jumpsuit I was wearing. 'The pay better be worth it, that was less than fun.'

The agent's eyebrows went up, and he held out his hand for the chip, which had recorded the data from the run as proof-positive the job was completed. I flipped it to him and he plugged it in, scanned the contents briefly, then nodded. 'Excellent work, Pilot Tiann. I'll add your records into our database.' He paid me a sum that was just shy of paltry -- it would make up the cost of the ammo I'd used and repairs to two of my drones which had taken armour damage -- then stopped me as I was about to leave.

'I must say I'm relieved you didn't disappoint, Tiann. You have no idea how badly a failure from you might have affected my status here.' He ran his fingers back through his short brown hair. It seemed everyone was trying to climb on everyone else's shoulders first around here; I wasn't particularly impressed. 'A longer association will afford you some benefits as well, by the way. We need pilots who can carry through on their promises.'

'Mr Galelare,' I said as I turned to leave. 'I never make a promise I can't keep... unless breaking it is more beneficial to myself and my crew.' I paused in the doorway to look back at the self-important little man. 'Try to remember that in the future.'

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The EVE Fiction Pack

YoMma from I May Find Peace Within the Emptiness has today introduced the EVE Fiction Pack an official listing of bloggers who frequently post in-character entries or fiction. The official list stands as follows:

Manasi - A Mule in EVE
Mynxee - Life in Low Sec
Myrhial Arkenath - Diary of a Pod Pilot
Ombey - Ombeve
PsycheDiver - Diving into PsycheDiver's Psyche
Roc Wieler - Roc's Ramblings
Shae Tiann - Sweet Little Bad Girl
YoMma - I May Find Peace Within the Emptiness

I'll update this list as changes/additions are made ^_^

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

That's No Way To Address A Civilised Pirate!

I was relaxing in the hangar lounge this afternoon with a cup of coffee and a comic book for company, only half paying attention to alliance comms when RoninData of the Bastards called in saying he'd found an Onyx solo-camping the Evati gate in Todi. Assuming others of the alliance would be quick to jump for the kill, I continued reading. Then:
RoninData > so i have this onyx tackled, anyone help me?
Clearly, nobody had been interested or they had been paying less attention than I had. I dropped the comic, knowing Ronin would need backup breaking the Onyx's tank, and headed for my hangar. I asked in comms what sort of ship would be needed, but my feet were already carrying me towards the place where my Myrm, the Firestarter was berthed. If it was gate action, I'd be needing her tank, even though the camper had got himself flagged.

Once in space, I got a sitrep from Ronin and barrelled towards the gate. There was a non-blinky Kestrel on the Evati side which Ronin said he thought was the Onyx's scout, which meant the Onyx likely knew I was coming through. In Todi, I found Ronin's Typhoon not quite able to keep up with the smaller heavy interdictor's attempt to burn away from the gate as it tanked the sentry guns. Fortunately, I caught up quickly and between the two of us and the gate sentries the Onyx's tank collapsed. The pilot barely escaped with his pod.

As we were cleaning up the mess there a week-old pilot by the dubious title of 'Unknown 234987' dawdled past in a Brutix. I'd already turned Firestarter towards the gate, and as the Brutix landed, Ronin said, 'Jump and catch him on the other side! I've been trying to get his Myrmidon all day.' I didn't think I'd be fast enough, but Mr Unknown was clearly not on the draw as he decloaked and I was able to drop a scrambler pulse through his warp drive. The sentry guns whirred to life and started firing as I sicced Valkyries on the other pilot, then got in range with my blasters. The Brutix had released drones of his own, an adorable flight of four Hammerhead 1's which I briefly considered shooting, then realised it wasn't worth it -- the damage was negligible compared to what the sentries were doing to my armour. Ronin arrived to join the party, thankfully distracting the sentry fire from myself and my drones.

Unknown234987's ship went down quickly, and again he didn't manage to warp out fast enough and his pod was caught as well. Before a ransom attempt could be initiated, the unfortunate pilot broadcast into Local:
Unknown234987 > c*nts
Which was not the most productive response he could have offered. 'Say that to the clone bay, fish face,' Ronin retorted as his autocannons shredded the pod and vented Unknown's corpse into hard vacuum.

He couldn't have been more than 5 seconds out of the cloning vats when he penned me the most viciously offensive mail I've yet received.
Unknown234987
2009.01.06 18:01
cock suckin c*nt
A little outrage is generally expected, but Unkown234987's way of expressing it was a bit extreme, not to mention juvenile. There really is no call for that sort of language.

This does, however, make the first actual hate-mail I've ever received in over a year's-worth of piracy. Which is yet another point on the List of Bastardry I can now tick off.

Cheered by that thought, I retreated to a deep safe spot to wait out my criminal timer and repair my armour. When I returned to my hangar, one of my techs had thoughtfully kept my half-full mug of coffee warm.

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OOC: mildly edited as I discovered the college computers would no longer allow me to access my blog due to the offensive language o_O

Monday, 5 January 2009

Thicker Than Blood: Chapter Five

Five weeks ago...

Sati had said that the first step lay in finding out who could possibly object to Dad being on the Security Council. My mission had come through the Navy, the seals were confirmed official, which meant at least one member of the Admiralty was complicit. Commodore Isaar either was, as well, or had been lied to skillfully.

There was only one person I knew I could trust to give me a straight answer.

Still working under my assumed Global ID as Madjack Rackham, a name I was slowly coming to identify with more than my actual name, I arranged an appointment to speak with Counsellor Tiann. It took a few days, but I finally managed to obtain an hour with my own father at his office in Lesith on Athinard V. I begged a day off from my CEO, flew out to the Sisters of EVE station over Athinard IV and took a mass-transit shuttle to planet five, figuring that a capsuleer actually landing planetside would cause much more of a stir than one coming in with the spacegoing plebes.

Once planetside in the spaceport city of Reims, I hopped the public transport monorail, to be whisked north though the five hundred kilometres of frozen marshlands to Lesith. With my relative wealth, I could have reserved a first-class cabin with cushy chairs, complimentary drinks and GalNet access terminals; but I wasn't in the mood. I paid a meagre sum for Standard class and spent the trip propped against a narrow shelf of a 'seat' along the wall in the entryway to one of the carriages, sharing my leg-room with a pile of other passengers' baggage on the overfilled train. It was somehow comforting, I thought as I huddled in my heavy leather jacket, to be just another citizen. The overpriced rail network coffee was sharp and acidic, but hot enough to warm my hands through the insulated paper cup.

From the monorail terminal, I transferred to the public tram service, clinging for dear life to a grip bolted into the ceiling as the rattletrap car sped a drunkard's path between the aging, graffittied buildings. Decaying stonework and brutalist steel-and-glass, decorated with the diamond-dust of a recent snowfall, flashed past the fogged windows.

The building my father kept his office in was one of the tallest buildings in the city, and one of the most recent, though it predated me by a good twenty years. A garden dome arched above its otherwise bland fa├žade, all the corners smoothed into organic ripples and long windows peering sleepily from behind patinaed copper bars that only looked decorative.

The receptionist nodded distractedly as I presented my appointment chit. 'You'll have to pass through the security checkpoint like everyone else, sir,' he said in a bored tone that dripped with a lack of sympathy for any objections I might have. Not that I had any. I relieved my pockets of loose items -- notepad, wallet, ID -- and set them aside for an officer to check, pressed my hands on the contact points and watched laser light play over my body as they scanned me down.

The capsuleer hardware showed up bright as daylight on the scan; I didn't even have to see the monitors, it was all in the way the woman at the controls straightened in shock and the flurry of sudden activity behind the bulletproof glass. A uniformed man bustled out and hurried over as I accepted my things back from the bewildered officer at the gate.

'I'm terribly sorry, sir, we had no idea you were a pilot.' The way he said it made my job sound as important as a foreign ambassador's. I suppose in a way, that was what I'd become: capsuleers transcended borders and factional allegiances. Despite that, there were some utterly filthy scoundrels out there, and if people had any inkling what many capsuleers did for a living, they might not be so quick to offer their trust.

I waved him off before his simpering could get on my nerves. 'I'm here on personal business. If you could show me the way to the lifts?' He wanted to arrange an escort, which I declined as politely as I could, and soon I found myself in the executive lift's posh, brass-mirrored box on my way to the upper floors.

I'd always wondered if the execs got better elevator music. The answer was 'no'.

Dad's personal secretary looked up with her bland, generic greeting smile as I entered the lobby; her expression changed to stunned amazement as recognition set in.

I grinned. 'Hey Marisa. Dad's in?'

'Um,' she stuttered, half-rising from her chair. 'He is, but he's got an appointment shortly-'

'I know, it's cool. It's with me.'

Her pretty face looked confused; I'd had an awful crush on her when Dad first hired her, and she still looked hot. She brushed a fallen lock of chestnut hair out of her eyes with a long-fingered hand; her nail varnish was metallic green today. 'Oh, um, okay. He's been in all morning.'

'Thanks.' I couldn't resist giving her a wink as a I passed; she blushed cutely.

Dad gave a gruff reply when I knocked at the door; he was putting on a good show of being busy, but as soon as he saw me he leaped up and embraced me, kissing me on the cheeks.

'Valar! Dog's bollocks, boy, what are you doing here?' He held me at arm's length and looked me over, taking in the changes I'd made to my appearance. 'You're this Jack Rackham who asked to see me today, aren't you?'

He'd put on weight since I'd last seen him, at my graduation from the academy, and there was a bit more grey in his hair than I remembered. I nodded. 'It's great to see you, but I think I'm under surveillance. I thought it would be best to use a different name.'

Dad squinted at me. 'You're looking good. But what's all this, now?'

'Do you know somewhere we can talk in private?'

He pursed his lips and frowned, then said, 'Feel like taking a walk?'

We ended up in a rock-garden on a lower section of the roof from the greenhouse. It had started snowing again, very lightly, and what was on the ground already nearly obscured the rippled patterns raked into the pebbles; the small fountain in one corner had been turned off and drained for the season. We waded through the snow, hands in our pockets and breath steaming from our lips.

'What's going on, Val?' Dad always cut right to the point; a devastating attribute if you were twelve and trying to avoid homework, but refreshing now. Of everyone I knew, he was all too aware that people were people no matter their status or occupation, a cynical mindset my sister shared.

'I need to know why you're paying to have Shae brought home.'

Dad stopped and cocked his head at me. 'I'm what, now?'

An ironic smile twisted my mouth. 'No, huh?'

Brushing snow from the head and shoulders of a graceful Jin-Mei sculpture, he said, with a touch of regret, 'Your sister is entirely her own person, Val. What she does with her life is up to her. Who am I to try to control that? Even if she chooses a life of crime and piracy, I can only hope she comports herself with the dignity and honour I tried to teach you two.' Dad looked up at me, a sorrowful expression on his face. 'I regret my initial reaction to her announcement that she was leaving the Navy, since it only hit that rebellious trigger she got from your mother. I wish she would talk to me again. But having her brought home would only see her tried and executed. I would never do that.'

I pulled my notepad out and inserted the data chip I'd concealed in one of the jacks in the back of my skull, calling its contents onto the page. 'This wasn't you, then?'

Dad read the text, then read it again, his eyes narrowing. It was a transcript of an audio conversation, ostensibly between himself and the last bounty hunter who'd been hired to locate Shae. Sati had acquired the copy at the cost of a few million ISK and not a little hardcore database cracking. There'd been other communiques like it, but this was the most in-depth of the lot; the hunter had apparently been the particular, moralistic type, and the person using our father's name had clearly done a close study of his style and attitude. The voice I'd heard was nearly perfect. There'd been something in that conversation, though, which had struck me as being out of place. Dad's darkening expression confirmed my suspicion that it was an act of deception played at the hunter's expense.

'Where did you find this, Val?'

'A friend found it--'

His finger shot up, interrupting me. 'I didn't ask who, I asked where,' Dad said, aiming that finger at me, still focussed on the notepad in his other hand.

'Well, it was--' I stopped. 'I don't know. A database somewhere she broke open.'

A grim smile played around Dad's mouth without fully appearing. 'A database. Who leaves a record like that lying around in a networked database? Who's this gentleman I'm supposedly talking to, the one who located your sister?'

I shook my head, feeling the cold bite my exposed skin. 'Some mercenary. He's not been located since the last communication in the record; Commodore Isaar said they suspect Shae killed him.'

That arched Dad's left eyebrow. 'I wouldn't say she's not the type. She can be vicious if pressed too far.'

Like father, like daughter. 'The audio recordings are attached to the text files if you want to give a listen--'

Dad scoffed and passed the notepad back. 'I assume it will be someone speaking through a filter based on recordings of my voice which anyone might have obtained. That recording was left there to be found, but I can't possibly think why.' He gave me a narrow look. 'You do realise that by accepting their 'mission' and leaving the Navy you have made yourself as much a pawn as your sister? There are no commanding officers to get in the way; anyone close to you can be bought.'

The chill I felt was no longer just from the winter air.

Frowning, Dad leaned on the high balustrade, looking out over the city as the snow fell. 'I have an idea who it might be. Someone in Federal Intelligence.' He tossed me a wry grin. 'I was elected because of my proposed policies towards Caldari immigrants living on Gallente soil. There was an attempt to discredit me when someone there did a little digging and discovered Grandma Airenn was Caldari, but it just made me more popular with the Moderate vote. I doubt they sleep well with me on the Security Council.'

I looked down at my feet and attempted to tap the caked snow off my boots. 'So what should I do?'

'Is that the only copy of that recording?'

'No, there are a couple others. You want this one?'

He nodded. 'In that case, yes. Val, are you absolutely certain you can trust this friend who did the cracking for you?' he asked as I handed the chip over.

I gave it a moment's thought, then nodded. 'Yes. It's what she does for a living.'

'Right.' Dad still looked sceptical. 'Make certain you have more than one friend out there, Val. You really are too trusting to be getting caught up in these types of political machinations. Get in touch with your sister. You know you can trust her to back you up.'

A laugh forced its way out of me. 'Heavens help the neighbours' kids if they beat up on her favourite punching-bag, huh?' Dad punched me on the shoulder lightly, grinning, but there was a touch of iron in his smile.

'The neighbours' kids will be throwing worse than snowballs if they suspect that I can't be controlled through my children. I know they tried through your mother: she called and ranted at me for a couple hours about keeping the government out of her life since it ruined our marriage. I hope she gave them as much of an earful.' He sighed and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. 'Come on, let's get some lunch and talk about the more pleasant things in life. As long as you're here we might as well have a good visit.'

Next Chapter

Thursday, 1 January 2009

My Best Killmail Ever

It seems even if I get a personal killboard, I won't be able to post this since it happened on the Singularity server, so I'm posting this here for the amusement of posterity.

2008.03.16 23:35:00

Victim: Fio Shovah
Alliance: NONE
Corp: New Age Flying Industries
Destroyed: Ares
System: Arzi
Security: 0.1
Damage Taken: 1682

Involved parties:
Name: Shae Tiann (laid the final blow)
Security: -8.0
Alliance: Atrocitas
Corp: Under the Wings of Fury
Ship: Atron
Weapon: Hyperion
Damage Done: 0

Yes, I apparently strapped an entire Hyperion onto my frigate and then dropped it on Fio's assault frig.

What actually happened was that I had a smartbombing Hype (long story -- it was an Alliance exercise that got very, very silly towards the end) and did some vague amount of damage to him. Hype got popped shortly thereafter by Alliance-mates in carriers, I docked, hopped in my scouting Atron and cloaked outside the fight-zone before the sentries noticed me.... by which point Fio got himself GCC'd and since I was the last player to do him damage, I got the 'final blow'... in my Atron.

Gotta love the quirks of game mechanics ^_^