Friday, 29 May 2009

Journeys in Eve

Out of curiosity, I've decided to jump on the meme-wagon and show where I've been in the last two years of Eve.

It's pretty obvious, I've never gone anywhere near the North. I just left it off the map. Most of my time has been spent in the fringes of Empire space, only thin trails testament to journeys I've taken through nullsec. My longest residencies were in Upper Syndicate, Kor-Azor and now Metropolis.

A closer look at the places that count.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Karmic Balance

I think I used up all the luck I had today when I took my Hyperion into nullsec with the guys, attacked a Moros, got dropped on by three motherships and made it out alive... with this bounty on my head. Because a bit later a gang hunted me down while I was out hunting with Happy San, popped my Ishkur and brought frigates in to try to catch my pod.

Tomorrow, I'm going to wake an alt up and pod myself. Then I'm going to hunt down Shina Windol and beat him 'round the head with his own ship for a bit.

It won't stop him advertising in Irjunen that I need more ISK on my head, but I'll feel better for it >:p

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

When the (Speed)Freaks Come Out

Anybody who knows me at all will know I hate nullsec. I really can't say it enough: bubbles and blobs are the bane of my existance, and my time in Lower Syndicate is hardly remembered fondly.

But when someone named Fish Brain suggests an interceptor run into the drone regions, it's hard to resist.

Fish is one of the Bastards' newest recruits and he's already proven himself both in combat and FC ability and in sheer weight of personality. He's quickly become one of my favourite people to fly with, so I knew the near-spur-of-the-moment op (it was planned for earlier in the week, but got postponed when an error hit stargates all over the cluster which caused ships' systems to shut down on reaching a jump destination for a couple of fairly miserable weeks) was guaranteed to be fun.

The Bastards and Hellcats are based fairly close to the entrance into nullsec through EOA-ZC, but the route we took led us instead through LXQ2-T via Paala. Fish called for the gang to orbit the gate while he took a peek inside. The other side was camped, mainly by members of Legion of xxDEATHxx and a couple small bubbles.

FC Fish obtained aggression and the lot of us jumped in, quickly wiping out the Legion Falcon and a random Merlin which happened to get caught in one of the bubbles. The Drake tore the hell out of 3Jayne's Taranis before Jayne got away, then it managed to drop aggro and jump through the gate. The Ishtar set sentry drones on us, but they didn't seem to do it much good; we swarmed towards the HAC and he booked it for the nearest celestial, leaving his drones behind. A Muninn showed up, and another Drake, and a capital ship somewhere in the system assigned fighters to the campers. FC Fish called for a tactical regroup some 250km above the gate.

We milled about up there for a couple minutes; then the fighters were withdrawn and the Drake and Ishtar returned. FC Fish made a calculated decision and went down to test his luck on the second Drake and ended up having to jump back through the gate when the Ishtar opened up on him. Fish came back, the Drake attacked him, and we descended upon the gate, popping and podding the Drake and running back out again, but not before 3Jayne's Taranis bought it.
godsend22 > need hlp paala gate
godsend22 > fuckers
Mr Frog > gf to you too
godsend22 > nice try
We decided to jump back into Paala for a quick break and to let Jayne reship, and when Randgris warped back to the gate one of the bubbles caught him and pinned him in the open like a piece of laundry left out to dry.

Round Two saw 3Jayne replaced by Raelyf, with Randgris back at the helm of an Ares. Instead of hanging about for more silly buggers on the gate, we shot through LXQ and into PX-IHN, skirting Etherium Reach and heading into Insmother. It was quiet out here, and we encountered nobody until C-J6MT, where we pounced on and blew away a hapless Intrepid Crossing Ishkur.
Lord Golgatha > fuck you
Lord Golgatha > all
Then came the Moby Dick of the run: a Shadow of xxDEATHxx Dominix we swarmed on the 78-0R6 gate. I was happily orbiting on manual pinning the space whale in place when he locked us up.
(notify) Light Ion Blaster II requires 1.0 units of charge. The capacitor has only 0.0 units.
(notify) Light Ion Blaster II requires 1.0 units of charge. The capacitor has only 0.0 units.
(notify) Light Ion Blaster II requires 1.0 units of charge. The capacitor has only 0.0 units.
(notify) Warp Disruptor II requires 4.0 units of charge. The capacitor has only 2.7 units.
(notify) Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters requires 36.0 units of charge. The capacitor has only 4.7 units.
Oh, crap. Our boy Andprand had clearly come prepared to take on a group of interceptors and had loaded his battleship with cap neutralisers. I started kiting in a growing spiral, glad I'd jumped by accident to the clone that had speed implants the night before. Finally the neut cycle on me ended and I had enough capacitor power to warp away. We lost Randgris' Ares and Mr Frog's Taranis to the hungry Domi and expressed our appreciation for an opponent who kept us on our toes.
Mr Frog > nice one
Shae Tiann > :D
Andprand > gf ?
Andprand > ah
Our casualties started home, and after a bit of conference the rest of us decided it was getting too late to consider delving further into the drone regions and set course back to Evati.

Four jumps back, and a Vagabond belonging to a pilot who'd mocked us in Local on our way through earlier appeared on the G-QTSD gate in EFM-C4. Four interceptors versus a Vaga? At this time of the night? With our reputation? Bingo!

All in all, it wasn't a bad roam. We had some laughs and some tense moments, kicked some arse, took a few names and generally agreed that despite our losses we came out ahead. Thanks to Fish Brain for fantastic FCing; and to our targets, as always, nothing personal, mates!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Arby Lonesome Tonight?

I checked in early at my office, the desire to cause severe property damage running hot. The last couple days had been frustrating, with work preventing me from stretching my wings, and the bland Caldari architecture was beginning to grate just a little.

Nobody was about and nothing was happening. No problems. I had my Thorax Switchblade prepped and podded up while I waited. There was something just so.... right about the feeling of linking into the ship. I've been flying inties too much, maybe; Switchblade missed me. It was like being hugged by an old friend, a friend who -- like myself -- had survived beyond death too many times to remember.

I started to roam, out from Evati towards Molden Heath. It was largely quiet, only haulers and shuttles running back and forth at this time of the day. I generally don't bother with such targets: being under sentry-fire in anything less than a battlecruiser isn't smart, and 95% of them would just be moving rubbish and personnel.

I was in Ingunn when my comms chirped. Fleet invite? Who...?

It was Jorge. While we'd stayed in contact, he'd disappeared into nullsec to bring his security status back up over a week before. What was he doing in Ingunn?

Accepting the invite, I tuned into the Hellcats comms.

'Hey, you, what are you doing out here?'

He sounded shy. 'Well, I got my sec to -5.3--'

'Almost there.'

'Yeah, almost. But then... I just started thinking. Killing Guristas has been driving me insane. It's boring. And even though I talked to Letrange about joining his corp, and have to be highsec-capable for it... I miss pirating.'

'You can take the pirate out of low-sec, but you can't take low-sec out of the pirate,' I quoted.

Something hit the hull of my cruiser, harmlessly bouncing the ship a couple hundred metres. I reoriented my cameras to see Jorge in his Pilgrim recon, playfully bumping me around.

'Aww, did you miss me?'

There was a moment of silence; then he said, 'Yeah. Wanna go hunting?'

We toyed with a Retriever and a Rifter on a station for a bit; the Rifter bumped me and Jorge popped him for his troubles. The Rifter pilot turned out to be fresh from the academy and didn't seem to understand that he wouldn't be getting a full new ship back to replace his loss.
Shae Tiann > hi there :)
Riviak > lol
Riviak > dude, you destroyed my ship, dun think I can get it back lol
Shae Tiann > you can't get anything back out here
Riviak > lol you suck
Shae Tiann > you get some ISK as insurance payout
Riviak > didn't have insurance
Shae Tiann > you get some basic insurance
Shae Tiann > it's automatic
Shae Tiann > tbh, two days old pilot shouldn't be in lowsec
I fear for some new pilots, they seem to still be lost in that fantasy-world where everything is an easy grind away.

After an hour of roaming we caught a lone Arbitrator in a belt on our way back. Props to Max Hound for putting up a good fight, focussing mostly on Jorge while using a tracking-disruptor (which for some reason isn't showing on the boards) on me. He'd have been better off TDing Jorge and trying to melt me: Jorge had the tank, I was fit for damage, and the disruptor stopped doing its job when I stopped moving.

Despite the lack of carnage, it was a good roam, and good to be flying with Jorge again.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Hellcats Office Tack- Board 03

It's been a while since I posted any pictures!

Myrmidons in fleetwarp.

In case anyone ever wanted to know what the size difference was between an Ishtar and an Ishkur...

An Amarrian cathedral in a complex we invaded.

A planet in eclipse.

Vanguard. alliance Nidhoggur in Egmar. Cheers to Unmirth Mirthyful!

Thorax silhouette. I might make a painting of this one.

Blue star system.

Destroyer fleet.

Megathron undocking.

Magnetar on the other side of a wormhole.

Interceptors on patrol.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Thicker Than Blood: Chapter Eight

Two weeks ago...

Modifying a ship was far from an easy process, even for the smallest of them. Especially the smallest, in fact, since the modifications had to be fitted precisely within the already compact design. Rigs were expensive off the market, only marginally cheaper if the pilot built them from bits salvaged from wrecks. There was a thriving market in salvage where no questions were asked about the parts' origins, and none were answered. Once assembled, the modifications had to be permanently affixed to the ship's inner workings, which could only take so much tinkering before they called quits.

Which was how Valar came to find himself up to his elbows in delicate electronics and nanogel insulation in the guts of his latest acquisition, a Taranis-class interceptor. Small, quick, and capable of a frightening amount of damage for its size, Miska had recommended the ship to Val when he'd commented that he wanted to try something new.

'The turrets, you rig for damage, or the engine for speed. Inties are fun to fly.' Miska had demonstrated teh capabilities of his Malediction in a 1v1 fight to structure with Flaschmann's Rupture-class cruiser; both ships had peaked structural damage at the same time, but the pilots agreed the Malediction would have won.

When the rigs for the turrets arrived, Val insisted on getting his hands dirty alongside his crew. 'Not that I don't trust you guys to do it right,' he'd laughed, 'I just want to get to know her better.' On a personal level, Val felt it was important to develop a connection to his ships, and that he couldn't truly call them his without helping with the work. It was a mindset which had concerned his commanding officers in the Navy, but more than one of his new corp-mates sympathised and were more than happy to discuss experimental fits of which the navies would certainly never approved and which worked far better than one might think. Rather than allowing their superiors to tell them what to fit, the independent capsuleers Val had met knew their ships and their capabilities, and fitted to play towards their individual strengths.

Working on the ship personally also helped to narrow the gap between captain and crew. They chatted amiably as they worked, teasing Val about what he had to endure, physically, as a pilot.

'... I mean, really, all those wires, man. I dunno how you do it.' Jial Amsen was a cheerfully irreverent technician from Gallente Prime, fair hair still growing out of the drunken buzz-cut his friends had inflicted on him the month before. At that moment, he was flat on his back on an antigrav prop beneath a console.

Val grinned as he helped Resja manoeuvre a flexible turret stabiliser panel down through the console's top hatch until Jial could catch its lower edge and wire it in place. 'After the first few times, you don't really think about it.'

'I don't really want to think about it now, and I'm not a pilot!'

Resja d'An, a Stacmon native, pulled a face at Jial through the open console. 'You fixate on that a bit; you got a fetish you wanna tell us about?'

'Only where you're concerned, baby.'

The dusky-skinned Intaki tech wiped sweat from her forehead, leaving a streak of murky nanogel across her face. 'In your dreams, you mean.'

'Funny you should mention that, cuz last night- ow!'

'Oh, sorry. Could you hand my spanner back up?'

Suppressing laughter, Val dropped down and fired up the console when Resja signalled the panel was in place. The turret maintenance bay was cramped, with barely enough space to pass among the machinery surrounding the mounting, and he had to be careful not to trip over Jial's feet or the tools littering the walkway. 'That's green, close her up and let's get the system meshed.'

Jial closed up the underside panel and slid himself from under the console. 'That reminds me, Cap'. Did that guy manage to find you last night?'

Frowning, Val glanced up. 'What guy?'

'I finished off a bit late on the port-dorsal turret last night. I was just logging the checks for the night when this guy showed up in the hangar, said he was from the Scope doing a series on the effects of capsuleer piracy. Said he wanted to ask some questions about your sister and that you'd told him to meet you here.'

Val straightened, running a hand back through his hair. 'I have no idea. This is the first I've heard of it...'

'You got a sister, Captain?' Resja asked.

'Well, yeah, but-'

'I'd like to know why you didn't tell us you're related to a pirate. That's like something out of the holos! You have any idea how cool that is? It she hot?' Jial had that gleam in his eye he usually got when talking about his weekend conquests. Val shook his head.

'Whoa, time out. I don't just tell people that for a reason, you know.'

'Yeh, lackwit. The word "retribution" mean anything to you?' Resja punched Jial lightly on the arm.

'That's a type of Amarr ship, right?'

The machinery around them hummed to life, the timer making a rhythmic pip sound as it counted down to full system readiness. The capsuleer leaned back against a readout panel. 'Yes, my sister's a pirate. No, I've not seen her in a year. No, I don't discuss it because I don't want people pointing fingers at me in effigy of the illusory evil forces who took their stuff and their ISK. And how the hell did this reporter guy get past the security into the hangar? Someone leave the door open again?'

The two techs looked at each other. Then Jial said, 'That's a really good question.'


'Well,' Hangar Security Manager Parulis said with a shrug, 'I don't know what to tell you, Pilot. There's no sign the hangar entry was forced at all. The only thing to do, really, is go back through the camera footage and see if there's anything dodgy.'

'Can you do that, then? Please?' Val added as he saw the expression on the woman's face.

She sighed and looked at him, the lines around her eyes pinching with thought. 'It's that important to you.'

'Unknown individuals have been tampering with my ships. This wouldn't be the first time someone's got into my hangar.'

The older woman's hand smacked heavily on the desktop, making both capsuleer and technician start. 'And you never came here before?' She stared at him, incredulous.

'Well, um...' Val rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. 'It... was a security risk. We kept it within the corp directors because we didn't know who might be bought off...'

'I could have been bought off and you're asking me to show you the camera records from your hangar.' The Security Manager sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. 'When will pilots learn that it's not always them against the world? Come on. Can one of you identify the man if you see him on the footage?'

'I can,' Jial answered. The tech looked more than a little intimidated to have been dragged up to the security offices, but Val had insisted he wouldn't be in trouble.

Parulis led them down a short hallway and through a couple of secured checkpoints to a room which was walled with flat 2-D panel monitors. The centre of the room displayed a wire-frame hologram of the station, bright green points highlighting the sections being shown on the monitors. She crossed to a control panel. 'Which hangar, Pilot, and what time was this?'

'1012-A at... Jial? About oh-one-hundred?'

'A bit before. Um, start from half-twelve, maybe.'

The monitors cleared to black for an instant before showing multiple views from within and without the hangar; the hologram display showed bright spots only around the hangar location. Parulis skimmed through fourty-five minutes of footage quickly, Jial paying close attention to the screens.

Standing behind them, Val frowned -- the cameras were still and nothing moved within the fisheye framing.

'Are you certain this is the right time?' the security chief asked.

Jial was shaking his head. 'I was definitely there, why doesn't the recording show me working?'

'Since when have you ever done any work?' Val said distractedly. 'Go back a bit, I thought I saw something. Keep going... There! You can just see Jial in the corner of that screen.'

'Huh.' Parulis ran the recording back and forward a couple times. 'Should be able to see him fully in this monitor and this one. So someone's fiddled with the system.' She sighed, looking tired. 'I hate when they do that.'

'What?' The two men stared at the security chief as she crouched down, levered a disguised hatch from the wall beneath the control panels, and made some adjustments to the wiring inside.

'There have been enough wars in Stacmon that people have circumvented the cameras before. I had backups installed a while ago.' The monitors flickered a moment and the bright spots on the hologram winked out. 'It's totally independent of the main system, records to a seperate buffer.'

Folding his arms, Val asked, 'What makes you think it's safe to tell us this?'

The security chief threw a toothy grin over her shoulder. 'It has an additional security system wired in.'

'Couldn't you put that security on the main camera system?'

'It'd violate health and safety regs. I trust that because I'm using this to help you, you won't go reporting it.'

'What additional security system?'

Parulis cracked a laugh and stood. 'Now let's see who was sneaking around.'

It didn't take long to spot the man, a slender, generic-looking Gallente, entering the hangar with what appeared to be wholly legitimate access codes. He moved as if he had every right to be there.

'I'm going to assume, Pilot, that you didn't give this guy any access codes. Let's get a rep on him.'


Sati was at her desk working when Val finally got back to their quarters.

'Hey sweetie.'

'Heya.' He kissed her on the cheek. 'What's that?'

'Oh, someone wants me to compile a list of their competitor's market activities. Boring stuff. Funny, though, their competitor asked me to do the same thing last week. How's the Taranis?'

'Coming together. Look, Sati, um...'

She turned in her seat to look up at him. 'What's up?'

Wordlessly, Val handed her the datapad Parulis had loaded the search results onto. Sati was silent as she scanned the information, but her lips pressed tightly together and her expression grew more severe.

'What is this?'

'He was in my hangar last night. His Scope background checks out but it looks kinda thin.'

'He's not from the Scope, that's why. He's a free agent, like me, but he's not as... discerning, shall we say.'

Val leaned against the front edge of the desk. 'He was in there the night before the moving op, too. Let some random guy in. We found evidence of more tampering on ships I've not used recently, too.'

'Brilliant. Have you told your CEO?'

He nodded. 'We have an idea of how to deal with this, but we need your help. You up for it?'

The Caldari woman smiled but there was little humour in her eyes. 'Absolutely. What do you need?'

Chapter Nine

Friday, 8 May 2009

Real Pirates Hull-Tank

'Fire control, docking port 3624-F! Put it out, now!'

A gout of frigid chemical-laden gas sprayed over the battered, smoking hull of my Taranis-class interceptor as it entered the thinner atmosphere of the outer docking corridor, and I shivered in reflex. By the time I'd brought the ship to rest in the port, the flames were out and the charred golden hull-plates were frosted with a caked layer of fire-retardant. My minimal crew was evacuated, but they couldn't permit me to leave the ship.

'I'm sorry, Captain, but if you leave that ship, it'll explode and we'll have a lot more to worry about in here than a small fuel leak. What the devil were you doing?'

I sighed. 'Tackling a Drake in a mission, if you must know. His Myrm friend sicced all his drones on me and I got out with 15% structure, then went back to get the Drake once my mates got the Myrm out of the way.'

'Well, you need to get that hull repaired, Captain. Can't let you leave the ship, you're the only thing holding her together.'

Ah, crap. Fortunately, the difference between repairing a hulled battleship and repairing a hulled interceptor is a couple of decimal places. I paid up and watched through my camera drones as the hangar crew got busy replacing damaged components and plating.

This probably wouldn't be the first time tonight, either.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A Farewell

I read the post on the alliance forums, then read it again, feeling my eyes sting a little. My throat tightened as I sat back, feeling inexplicably bereft.

He couldn't leave. He couldn't...

He'd been part of my life since I joined the Hellcats, like the devil-may-care little brother you love to have around to get you into trouble. It was selfish, I knew, to want someone to stay because you love them, but the thought of no longer being able to fly with him left me feeling cold.

Was it because of what had happened last month? I doubted it; he was stronger than that.

I got up and shut the console down, then went down to the By Jove. If nothing else, I could spend what time remained with him before he left.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Lurking for Fun and Profit

You know... I'm not really certain how last night happened.

The corp has had a lot of recruits in the last couple weeks, bringing the Hellcats membership up to eighteen. We've come a long way in the eight months since I joined, but it means extra work for the Hellcats command staff -- Mynx and I had a chat the other day and we decided that Venom Orchid had earned the trust and responsibility of being a corp director. Not bad for a girl who joined after hearing I'd shot and downed her sister in a baiting attempt!

I was working away in my office making up for the time I'd lost on Saturday and listening in on voice comms when I heard 'sniping Abaddon in Las', 'mostly tackle, here' and 'need more dps'.

Without hesitation, I turned my transmission on. 'You guys want me out there in the Myrm?'

What followed was a bit confusing, but the sniping battleship seemed to disappear, there was a gang in Todifreauan we thought we could handle which suddenly decided to go somewhere else, and then there was a Dominix in a mission who had a scout sitting on his entrance-gate. We did pick up a load of free t2 heavy drones there, but it was a somewhat disappointing evening. Especially sitting in a battlecruiser: it means that all those targets you have to let pass you on the gates are suddenly viable because your tank can take the damage from the sentry guns.

Piracy is a very hit-or-miss profession: either you get it and go home with fat pockets or you go hungry another day.

I ended up on the Lasleinur gate waiting for the go to jump in and in the end a Caracal got tackled by Bastards recruits Jmarr and Happy San and the call was made to leave it to the smaller ships -- something I agreed with, because it feels just plain wrong to send against a target any amount of ships that total more than the target's hull-mass, a sentiment I picked up from Tical31 in Doom Armada. The Caracal ceased to exist, and then the pod was caught.

And then someone had the brilliant idea of seeing how long they could just hold the pod in space. I'm not certain what the point was; maybe just milking the smack cow, or maybe it was a personal challenge. In the end, someone got an itchy trigger and the pod popped after eleven minutes while we waited to see how many of his mates would come to the rescue. None arrived, however, and we returned to Evati.

I swapped to my Taranis. I've been loving flying interceptors lately; the size and agility make things fun, and at the end of the day, I've always been more of a small-ships pilot.

Flash decided it was time to range further afield in our search for a fight; he sent me out towards Otosela. I had a close encounter of the Blinky Thrasher kind on the Akkio gate in Todifrauan; not fancying my chances -- Thrashers, when properly set up, are fearsome frigate-killing platforms -- I jumped in and picked a safespot to warp to.

My spot just happened to be in line with the Tama gate, and it was clear the destroyer pilot did very much fancy his chances taking me out, because he warped to Tama, hung about at the gate for a bit, jumped in, then came back. By that point we had RoninData in Akkio too, with me playing bait on a planet for his Rapier, but the destroyer pilot I think knew trouble when he saw it and left.

Otosela, when I checked, didn't look like a very pirate-friendly environment: twenty in local, mostly members of Rote Kapelle alliance, several of whom were waiting out GCCs somewhere in the system. I may still be on speaking terms with members of Stimulus, but I know better than to test my luck.

Just about then, someone spotted a mission-running Rokh in Evati. The pilot had been drifting around for a few days, but this was the first time we had seen her actually doing anything -- and in such a juicy ride, too. The pilot entered and left the system a few times, with everyone desperately checking the nearby systems to find out where she was going, until one of our newer members who hasn't yet lost all her security status checked Anher and caught the Rokh returning.

The tankers huddled around Anher gate, awaiting the telltale flare of the returning battleship. When it finally appeared -- 35km from the camp! -- the pilot beat a blazing trail away... towards the top asteroid belt. The gatecamp split as pilots went to either the belt or the planet, just in case, and the rest of us waiting in Todifrauan jumped in and aligned.

Jmarr hit the belt first, and there was the Rokh, sitting at 0 to the beacon, fresh out of warp and too slow to get away. Tackle was called, and we quickly surrounded the battleship, pinning it in place while the confused pilot was offered ransom terms. In the end, she had only 147 of the 150 million demanded, but this was considered an acceptable compromise.

Guess it was a fat-pockets day, after all!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Voice of Motion

Lights flare, the deep thunder rolling behind curling up though my bones and making them ache. I chase the shadows in between, my companions moving in unconscious synchronisation as we pursue our target.

Which, incidentally, is to get drunk and have fun.

Lara showed up early Saturday evening, announced by a rhythmic rattle of her hands on the door to my office, dressed in ripped fishnets and a glossy skirt that fell just shy of pornographic.

'Come on, girl. We're goin' out.'

I made a palms-up gesture with both hands towards the computer, where I was processing through details for our latest recruits. The Sebiestor pilot snorted, stalked over on her impossibly high-heeled boots and grabbed my arm, playfully tugging me out of my chair.

'Do it tomorrow! We found this great club in Hek, come onnnnnnnnn...'

She gave a dramatic purple-lipstick pout, but I was already saving off my work. 'Alright! Alright! Am I flying?'

'As excitin' as it'd be to get shot at by the police, I'd rather arrive with my hair unruffled.' She ran a hand over her short, marigold-dyed locks. 'No, Beady's flying, he's a "good" boy.'

'Beady, huh?'

"Beady" was actually B.D: a small, wiry Intaki with long hair dyed a luxurious shade of plum and a penchant for loud music. He chatted cheerfully with us over the comms as he piloted the Thorax, leaving the the rest of us -- myself, Lara and a Brutor named Nik -- to get ready in the captain's room adjoining to the capsule chamber.

'Been a while since I went out like this,' I commented. I was leaning forward over the sink to apply dark cat's-eye makeup in front of the mirror.

Nik ducked in behind me to study the effect of the gel he was running through his bleached-blond Mohican; the cabin lights gleamed dully from the numerous piercings in his ears and face. 'I know. It's a shame to hide that hot, flashy ass in lowsec.' Apparently happy with his hair, he patted me affectionately before turning away. I had the satisfaction of scoring a smack on his own firm cheeks before he got out of range; we'd known each other for a while.

'What's this place called, anyway?'

'Bedlam,' Beady answered. 'I've not been, but one of me mates said it was a good time.'

'Awesome.' I perched a black fedora over my dreadlocks and studied the effect: classic cabaret-dark eyes, blood-red lips and nails, tailored black waistcoat and pants with a string of crimson crystals wrapped around my neck like a vampire smile. Nik blew me a kiss in the mirror and returned to tightening the straps on his leathers. I eyed him thoughtfully for a moment, then looked at Lara. 'You need a hand with that?'

'Darlin' please, I been doing my own corsets for years.' She gave the laces a final firm tug, turning her modest tracts of land into enviable assets, and somehow managed to tie everything securely without so much as glancing into the mirror.

It didn't take Beady long to get ready once we'd docked in Hek; of the four of us, he looked the most normal in a two-piece suit and a band t-shirt. We received some odd looks from passers-by, but the bouncers at the club searched us for concealed weaponry and let us in the door without so much as a surprised blink.

Inside, it was dark and smoky, lights carving arcs through the mist. Nik shouldered his way through the crowd towards the bar after asking what we wanted, leaving the rest of us to find a table. I scanned the crowd, searching for familiar faces and spotting a few. The crowd was primarily regulars, eyeing us strangers surreptitously; overwhelmingly Matari and Gallente, though there were a few rebellious young Amarrians and Caldari among the mix.

Socialisation, however, was something for the quieter lounge to the rear; in this room, the music was heavy and pounding, the best form of communication through gesture and movement rather than words.

We danced.

I wake up in a bed that feels too soft and uncommonly warm, rays of sunlight filtering through the curtains over the viewport and falling across my face. Glancing over my shoulder at the lithe figure sleeping beside me, I smile a little and slip out from under the sheets, finding my clothes from the night before among the pile. It always seems to be the Caldari boys, though this is the first time I've been picked up by an Achuran.

Quietly, I dress, clean up the mess we'd left the night before, make a large pot of coffee in his kitchen, and leave a note beside it thanking him for the fun after-party. I needn't have worried about whether Beady was still around to offer a ride home; as I open the door, I spot the Intaki slinking out of someone else's quarters further down the hallway. He catches my eye and grins sheepishly, then motions for me to accompany him towards the hangar.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Empyrean Age

A bit ago I decided to finally fold and buy the Empyrean Age novel. I was really waiting for it to come out in mass-market paperback (the smaller pocket-sized volumes rather than the trade paperbacks, which are essentially the size of your standard hardback) because my shelves don't have the room for another trade... Bah.

But I bought it, brought it home, and determined to read it through with the intention of posting a review.

So I owe everyone an apology.

I cannot finish this book. I've read up to page 109, and I cannot read any more. I've dropped better novels after only the first chapter, and it's testament to my initial determination that I gave it this much of a chance.

Everything that can be said has already been said, by people with stronger constitutions than mine.