Saturday, 28 February 2009

No Place Like Oz

I wrapped one arm around my leg, resting my chin on my knee as I eyed the manifest Lara had sent me this morning: three cruisers and a bc purchased, plus fittings, but scattered around nearby highsec systems awaiting collection. She'd appended a note that, while they were not far from my new base, they were certainly far removed from each other, and collecting everything without taking the far shorter routes through lowsec was going to be time-consuming at best. I suspected the tedium of piloting back and forth in a hauler would drive her a bit loopy.

I wasn't alone out here anymore. Sard Caid and Raxip Elamp had introduced me to friends of theirs who based nearby, and shortly after I'd clone-jumped away from Evati last night, Jorge Belda had followed, bringing with him my cat.

All the comforts of home.

I'd been managing corporation paperwork the last day -- now that Hellcats had an influx of new members, mostly fresh pilots straight out of the academy, Mynx had asked me to take on a few more roles to lighten her load, and I was happy to oblige -- attempting to ignore the increasingly oppressive atmosphere in Evati. I couldn't put my finger on it: it wasn't the war, which was still in effect, nor did it have anything to do with the immense fleet from Stella Polaris which had been lurking the area that day. The only source of annoyance I could really see was the rampant drama cases which had been afflicting our brother corporation for a while; I missed Jedziah, Sarge, Kalazar and others who had left amid what had been less shit hitting the fan and more a slow grind of slurry with occasional chunky bits through the rotors.

I needed space.

The crew I'd left in Molden Heath had been happy to see me, and we'd spent the evening on a girls' night out, effectively taking over a bar which maintained a large number of pool tables in a room to the rear. It had been ages since I'd played, and it was a relief to find I wasn't too rusty.

We were in for another surprise, however, as former Bastards member Antoniobanderas showed up briefly insystem. I'd missed Bandy, too, and we chatted a bit on the Local channel before he'd gone chasing the next shiny target.

It was like taking that first deep breath of spring air after a winter huddled indoors. Despite the area being filled with potential spies waiting to relay word of juicy outlaws to interested hunters, it felt so much clearer. I glanced across the hangar to where my Ishkur, Hooligan Spirit, hovered in her null-gee field and felt a stir of excitement within me. This was the way things were supposed to be.

I was ready to fly.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Dark Omen

This is a continuation of the short fiction 'Dark Omen' by Jorge Belda. The series starts here.

I frowned at the Amarrian who had unexpectedly passed out on my sofa, feeling a bit bewildered.

'Well... that was weird.' I looked at Asa, who was picking her way through my tea service on the coffee-table. 'What do you think?' The cat glanced up at me, then sniffed a teacup and sneezed. I smiled a little and scrubbed the top of her head, then dragged a decorative blanket from the back of the other sofa and draped it over Jorge. Tugging his boots off and setting them on the floor beside that clunky hood of his, I had to wonder what was going on with the poor kid. He looked about my age but seemed so much younger, less-experienced.

When he'd turned up at the door of the Hellcats corp leisure suite -- the 'Hot Tub' as we generally referred to it -- I'd thought it was just another round of the boys' usual antics; every so often, one would come poking around to see if they could get in on a Hellcats 'massage' session, which caused us no end of amusement once the pics went up on the office tackboard. But once I'd realised Jorge wasn't there for the 'house special', and that he was in fact incredibly uncomfortable there for reasons other than the ambient humidity, I'd dragged him back to my apartment for a cup of tea and a sit-down.

Boy, had he needed it, too. Carefully, not wanting to wake him up, I brushed his hair off his face and took a closer look at the scars there. They looked ugly, raised and discoloured, and were firm with knotted tissue. In his sleep, Jorge made a small, pained noise; his face was pinched in a grimace, eyes squeezed tightly and shoulders hunched defensively.

'What did they do to you?' I murmured, hesitantly resting my hand on his head. He seemed to relax a little, but I doubted he ever slept well, if this was typical. Frowning, I rose and crossed the room to the comms centre, booting it up and hooking into GalNet to run an infosearch.

Jorge's head was packed full of Sansha implants, from the sound of it. If he'd been raised in the remnants of Sansha's Nation, they must have really messed with the inner workings of his brain, but I didn't really know more than what I'd learned years ago in school. I dropped a series of keywords in and sat back to let the system churn through online assets.

'So did he proclaim his undying love for you?'

I jumped as Mynxee's voice unexpectedly projected fom the comms speakers. 'ShhhYTE, Mynx, don't do that to me,' I hissed, dragging the neural connection from its casement and plugging in so the conversation would be contained in my head.

'Hehe, sorry... your comms set to boot up when you turn your system on?'

'It was... looks like the damn thing reset itself again. Meh.'

She chuckled and I enabled visual comms. 'Soooooo...' she purred slyly. 'If you carted our dear Amarrian off to bed, what are you doing online?' She gave me a mock-scolding look and I stuck my tongue out at her.

'I didn't, actually. He needed someone to talk to, so I fed him tea and...' I trailed off, still trying to put everything together. The search pinged at me as a list of available information sources began to scroll up the screen. There weren't many, not as many as I'd hoped, but it was a start. The first three were textbook entries I'd seen before, so I went to the next.


I glanced over my shoulder; she wouldn't be able to see that part of the room from the video feed. 'He's passed-out on the couch, now. Mynx, I've never seen anyone fall asleep so fast, one second he was all there, the next... boom.'

''Boom'? Did he-'

'No!' I cut her off before she could finish what was undoubtably going to be a filthy comment. 'Fucksake!'

Mynx's broad I-know-what-YOU've-been-doing grin faded a little. 'What happened?'

I kept skimming the articles the database was popping onto my screen. 'He's not Amarrian, Mynx. Jorge is Sansha. If he'd stayed with them, he might have been TS by now, but they did something weird with his implants. He has control over himself... kinda.'

Mynx was frowning now. 'Wait, what?'

'That's what I was thinking. I'm trying to find out what sort of effects the Sansha stuff has on people. Looks like it turns them into zombies... that's just fucking creepy.' I eyed the young man who did not appear to be sleeping well at all on the other side of the room.

'He still has the implants he left with?' Mynxee looked alarmed when I nodded.

'Yeah. I have no idea what they're doing to him. Looked almost like he got... I dunno, shut down, when he got upset earlier. That was when he suddenly started to look tired. I mean, it's not that late.'

'Upset? What upset him?'

I put my hand over my eyes. 'You really do not want to know.'

'You heartbreaker, Shae.'

'I don't think he'd know what to do with me in the bedroom if he ever got me there,' I sighed. 'He's kind of cute once you get that hood off him, though.'

'Oooh I'm jealous now!'

The banter was a bit half-hearted, an attempt to lighten the mood. We chatted for a bit longer, then I signed off for the night. Asa had tucked herself in between Jorge's feet at the end of the couch; she purred loudly when I petted her and said, 'Keep an eye on him, would ya?' The last thing Jorge needed right now was to be left alone.


I awoke with a start. It took me a moment to realise I actually was awake, then the door opened and Asa skittered through, jumping onto the bed and landing hard on my stomach.

'Ow! Fuck-!' Cursing and still only half-aware, I shoved the cat off and sat up. 'What-?' The cat growled from where she'd retreated under the bed. 'What's your problem?'

Oh, shit. Jorge.

I'd only been asleep about five hours. Shoving the blankets off, I stumbled to the door. 'Lights, low!' I ordered. Illumination rose as I entered the sitting-room. Jorge was gone. His boots and hood were where I'd left them beside the sofa, the blanket I'd put over him crumpled on the floor and covered with ginger hairs from Asa's agitated kerfluffle.

Not finding him either in the apartment or in the immediate set of hallways, I patched in a call to his apartment, then to other members of the Bastards. Nobody had seen him. His crews hadn't heard a thing, but after someone checked his hangar, they reported that Jorge's Succubus was missing.

Throwing on the same clothes I'd been wearing the day before, I ran to the hangars, absolutely certain that something had gone very, very wrong.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Practical Jokes

There's no way to IC blog this. I did consider it, but there are some things which in Real Life, would run too much against human nature to be committed so casually.

The other night in the Hellcats public channel, someone happened to take a peek at my info and said, 'hmmm, 15 mill bounty, not high enough me thinks,' and added a few million onto it. Not a problem in itself, I'm so accustomed to having ISK on my head that it feels weird to see my info without that big red WANTED stamp.

But then everyone else got in on it....
Ren Hespere > when do they put yout face up on the billboards?
Raxip Elamp > damnit, that was all I could afford, Shae.
Creesch > it is 30 now
Shae Tiann > no f*cking way are you putting that much isk on my head
Creesch > yes way
Shae Tiann > no, I mean enough to het my face on a billboard
Creesch > In time
Shae Tiann > that's in the hundreds of millions range
Raxip Elamp > \o\ Check it again!
Creesch > just don't get yourself killed dear :) and we will make sure you get there
Ren Hespere > lol, 40 now
*Shae Tiann facepalms > too much love kills me
Shae Tiann > man, I only got podded like three days ago :p
Ren Hespere > shae, your like a celeb
Vertigo Falling > damn shae
Shae Tiann > you people have too much isk to waste :p
Raxip Elamp > Actually yes.
Shae Tiann > :/
Creesch > well it is only 70....
Creesch > so we need to add a lot more :P
Raxip Elamp > I think that's a challenge.
Shae Tiann > I hate you
Shae Tiann > omg I hate you all
Shae Tiann > I'mma go pod myself now
Raxip Elamp > \o\
Raxip Elamp > NOES
Creesch > nooooooooo!
Creesch > you can make more money shae! :P
Shae Tiann > you're all awful meanies and I need the isk more than the next enterprising lowlife :p
Vertigo Falling > lol shae
Vertigo Falling > i think i'll pod shae
Creesch > aww :(
Creesch > just don't get podded ? :D
Shae Tiann > >_< I won't be able to undock at this rate
Shae Tiann > you're all horrid :p
Raxip Elamp > Aw comeon, don't pod yourself. That's lame.
Raxip Elamp > Make your life more interesting.
Ren Hespere > lol
Ren Hespere > this is epic
Shae Tiann > I will! I was just saying to Mynx, if it got over 50, I would
Ren Hespere > ill do it and split it with you
Raxip Elamp > Oh come on.
Creesch > Shae you have the change to get it to a 100
Shae Tiann > if you can put that much on my head, you can stand to lose it all to my alt :p
Vertigo Falling > haha
Kalazar > I've just noticed :D
Kalazar > Nice bounty Shae ^^
Shae Tiann > ah, but I didn't EARN it
Ren Hespere > - 10, 70 mill, shes now a legend
Creesch > yes you did shae
Shae Tiann > it's just a nasty joke my friends play on me
Shae Tiann > like the first one :p
Kalazar > aww, poor Shae
Creesch > pod yourself and I'll come down personally to podkill you again as punishment
Creesch > :P
Raxip Elamp > \o/ IT'S OVER 100 MIL
Creesch > yay!
*Shae Tiann headdesks
Creesch > let's make it 200! :P
Shae Tiann > NO
Raxip Elamp > I challenge you to see how long you can survive with that.
Shae Tiann > ffs
Shae Tiann > NO
Raxip Elamp > Sadly, that's the limit of my Iskies.
Ren Hespere > LOL, im loving htis
Vertigo Falling > rofl
Raxip Elamp > YOu love us, Shae.
Shae Tiann > you're meanies!
Shae Tiann > >=|
Raxip Elamp > Nooooooooo....
Creesch > 110
Raxip Elamp > We love you. We want to make sure you never have a boring day!
Ravven Kitsune > lol
Shae Tiann > omfg whyyyyyyyyyyyyy
Raxip Elamp > bidding goes to creesch, I'm out.
Kalazar > Easy answer Shae - Empty JC, alt, free money! :P
Creesch > 110, anyway going for 120 ?
Shae Tiann > I need an empty JC
Creesch > 120 anyway...
Shae Tiann > argh!
Creesch > the gentlemen there ?
Shae Tiann > NO!
*Vertigo Falling giggles
Raxip Elamp > SOLD
Raxip Elamp > Gimme a moment to log my alt in.
Vertigo Falling > hahahaaha
Vertigo Falling > just think of waht you'll be able to buy shae!
Shae Tiann > omfg I won't be able to undock except in a recon!
Shae Tiann > ><
Avan Sercedos > I'll pod you and split it
Avan Sercedos > :)
Shae Tiann > how 'bout I pod myself with my alt and leave it at that >:P
Avan Sercedos > I'm an honest piwat
Avan Sercedos > sounds like too much risk of someone else podding you
Avan Sercedos > tbh
Shae Tiann > I'm logging my alt on right now! >_<
Raxip Elamp > No, See how long you survive. Don't be a sissy, Shae.
Shae Tiann > 25 I can live with
Avan Sercedos > It's ok Shae
Shae Tiann > 110 is just NO
Avan Sercedos > You can have an epeen too
Raxip Elamp > \o/
Raxip Elamp > you mean 120
Avan Sercedos > bounty = epeen
Vertigo Falling > hhaah
*Shae Tiann gares murderously at Raxip
Avan Sercedos > oh no
Raxip Elamp > =D
Avan Sercedos > shes garing at you
Avan Sercedos > RUN AWAY
Shae Tiann > anyone else? if there is, I'll show you how to REALLY earn a bounty!
*Raxip Elamp hugs Shae.
Raxip Elamp > It's okay, you don't have to be so scared.
Shae Tiann > >__________<
Lincolnshire Poacher > shes almost on the most wanted list at the bounty office
Creesch > I wonder how she will react to the 300... :P
Vertigo Falling > you wouldn't!
Raxip Elamp > DO IT DO IT DO IT
Lincolnshire Poacher > the bottom of the list is 167,174,042
Raxip Elamp > Put Shae on teh list!
Shae Tiann > omfg
Shae Tiann > you people have too much f*cking isk
Creesch > Nah, just bored shae
Creesch > and giving you bounties always makes me forgot time because of priceless reactions :)
Creesch > I don't put bounties on strangers heads
Creesch > :P
Shae Tiann > ngr
Raxip Elamp > Someone anti up 3 mil and she's on the list.
Shae Tiann > my private amusement is in messing up people's carefully-placed 666 and 1337 bounties
Raxip Elamp > \o/ ON THE LIST
Kalazar > yeah, but that's just fun Shae :D
Avan Sercedos > make pew on her pod
Avan Sercedos > nao
Lincolnshire Poacher > no she isnt
Lincolnshire Poacher > Jaxx Blackfox is bottom of list
Raxip Elamp > Damnit, List starts at 167.
Raxip Elamp > I'm out of isk. Anyone?
Creesch > someone needs to put 30 mill on her :P
Raxip Elamp > Oh snap.
Avan Sercedos > =)
Creesch > made list
Raxip Elamp > \o/
*Raxip Elamp dances Shae aroudn in a circle
Avan Sercedos > holy crap
*Shae Tiann facepalms
Avan Sercedos > where do you people get this isk to waste?
Creesch > I don't see her on the list though :(
Shae Tiann > delayed by 2 hours
Raxip Elamp > pls don't lose it at least for two hours.
Creesch > yes I want screenshots!
Shae Tiann > lets see how long it takesmy alt to get here
Shae Tiann > >:P
Raxip Elamp > pls wait 2 hours? I'll bake you a cookie.
Creesch > snap creesch's wallet is empty
Raxip Elamp > same, lol
Vertigo Falling > omg you guys. lol.
Shae Tiann > my bounty is now higher than that of the guy who podded me the other night
Shae Tiann > congrats
Creesch > np
Creesch > With pleasure
*Raxip Elamp bows
Shae Tiann > I'll wait two hours, but this is coming off after that
Raxip Elamp > Yay!
Creesch > noooooooooo!
Raxip Elamp > You're totally a sissy, though.
Creesch > you can never use this char again to undock
Shae Tiann > I'm practical
In the end, the total amount hit 176,666,666.00 ISK, but because the Most Wanted list appears to be broken, my name didn 't make it up there. Proof:
I was going to wait until I could get a screenshot of my character on a CONCORD billboard, but because the MW list is broken, the info doesn't go to the boards, either *le sigh*

This does prove, however, that the bounty system in Eve is broken: there is nothing in place to prevent a pirate from using their alt to collect their own bounty, or to have a friend pod them and split the proceeds. And as Sard Caid put it, 80% of the bounties in Eve are given out of affection and/or respect.

I did end up stupidly prodding the hornets'-nest that is GiS in a crap-fit Incursus with that much on my head, which made for a fun hour or so while they buzzed around angrily. Mostly, though, I've been spying on war targets in Evati from the relative safety of my recon, until just now when I got fed up waiting on the system and had my alt collect on Shae's pretty head. Some of that will go towards the implants I need to replace; ten million went back on as a tribute to my friends and their oversized wallets. And the rest... well, we'll see ;)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Hellcats Office Tackboard 02

This afternoon, Mynxee showed me a pic she took when I was off setting up in MH. Asa managed to make off with Flash's shades, and Mynx was pissing herself laughing describing his efforts to get them back!

That's one for the wall, that is!

The Big Reveal

After I set up my base in Molden Heath, I returned to Evati. There was a war to fight, and I'd be damned if I wouldn't be there to support it.

What?! I hear you say. Pirates declaring war?! Allow me to sum up.

We've been keeping it on the quiet, but yes, the Hellcats and The Bastards declared war a week ago on Gemeinschaft interstellarer Soeldner (or GiS) and their buddy Com-Star. We split from the alliance to make this happen, since neither of these corps is really worth paying alliance-sized wardec fees on. As Hallan Turrek has already said, we didn't do this to win. There IS nothing to win, here. We're simply enforcing our right to do what we want, where we want, and no amount of blob-fielding, ewar-wielding jackarses is going to prevent us from doing so.

This war is to make them expend lots of their isk, time and resources to engage us, and thus far it's been succeeding beautifully, to the point where they've stopped attempting to camp us in with their masses of neutral, non-outlaw friends. Yes. They already outnumber us and throw falcons as if they were expendable, and when we declared war so that their non-flashy arses wouldn't have the edge of sentry guns, they brought twice their numbers in targets we couldn't engage in small ships. And yet, their efficieny against us dropped until they removed the campaign from their killboards a couple days ago.

It's good to be a pirate and not fight by the rules >=3

Monday, 16 February 2009

Basters at Twenty Paces


‘-riots continue to break out on Cald-’


‘-rmer Band of Brothers, now opera-’


‘-ecent attack by Blood Rai-’


‘Hello and welcome back to Cuisine of New Eden. I’m Lairen Comrey–’

‘And I’m Terric Jaimsen. Tonight’s programme is a bit different from the usual; you viewers at home are in for a special treat tonight!’

‘And what a treat it is.’ The camera shifts to focus on the presenter in her neat violet suit as she composes herself. ‘Last week, someone wrote in to our own Chef Marçeau asking if he was aware of a new cookery volume which has recently been published by Capsule Pilot Vaas Milgren via GalNet EMedia.’

‘Yes, indeed.’ The view flips back to Terric as he picks up the narrative. ‘The volume, titled I Jumped, I Docked, I Dined, has received astonishing reviews throughout the capsuleer community and is being called the premiere recipe-book for the interstellar traveller. It contains literally thousands of recipes from around New Eden, including a section dedicated to alternative and fusion dishes, and extensive descriptions of the cultural backgrounds.’

‘I Jumped, I Docked, I Dined is truly a marvel and Pilot Milgren has clearly dedicated a lot of his time and energy to it.’

The image changes to show a wiry Sebiestor man grinning broadly into the camera; the footage is from an interview which was recorded at his book’s launch. He speaks into the microphone which has been thrust into his face:

‘Well, y’know, I’ve been all over the galaxy– What? No, I can’t say I’ve been to every system, but I’ve certainly seen every region. I don’t look it, but I love food– Yeah, I go to the gym daily, you can’t slack off when you spend your days in a pod, y’know? So everywhere I dock or land, I ask the locals what their favorite foods are. I go to restaurants a lot, y’know, try tons of different dishes. Sometimes the places give me the recipes when I ask, someti– Yeah, they’re all credited. Sometimes they’d rather not share, which is fair enough if it’s someone’s signature dish, so I developed my own variations which are near as damnit.’

He runs a hand back through his short mohawk, pondering a barely-audible question from the interviewer. ‘Well, y’know, part of it has to do with understanding the culture. Did you know there’s an Amarrian sect which forbids the use of cinnamon in dishes containing jaii-fruit? I know, I can’t imagine jaii without cinnamon, but there ya go: that isn’t the craziest food taboo I’ve heard of, either.

‘But I thought, I can’t be the only pilot who loves food, so I decided to publish the stuff.’

The video clip continues, silenced, but Lairen’s voice-over declares, ‘Obviously, Chef Marçeau couldn’t let this challenge to his expertise go unanswered.’

The feed now shows a somewhat portly Gallente man making a poor show of concealing his annoyance; this is also from an earlier interview. ‘–I thought, this is ludicrous! The man floats in a ball of goo with a bunch of tubes up his orifices every day. He’s a pilot, not a trained chef! I paid hundreds of thousands to attend the most prestigious cooking school in the Federation, and this guy claims he’s qualified to produce a book like this? I think this calls for a little test!’

The camera returns to the two presenters; Terric straightens his natty silver jacket and states, ‘The oven-mitt has been thrown down tonight, and Capsuleer Milgren has agreed to join us for a cook-off: a competition between himself and Chef Marçeau.’

‘The rules are to create a full four-course meal in which each course represents one of the four great nations of New Eden. Especially for this event, we have invited ten of our most well-known food critics to determine who knows food better: Marçeau or Milgren.’

‘Milgren caused quite a stir when he arrived last night in an interceptor packed full of ingredients, but station security has not been forthcoming on exactly what the problem was. We’re assuming it was a Customs issue regarding some of his imports, but there appears to be a higher level of security around the studio tonight.’ Terric flashes a too-white smile at the camera. ‘I suppose if one of the eggs hatches there may be a flutter, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen! Let’s go to the kitchens, shall we?’

The camera follows him as he gets up, brushes imaginary wrinkles from his trousers and walks out the door into the neat, industrial hallway. He glances over his shoulder occasionally, narrating to the camera as he makes his way to the studio kitchens. ‘Chef Marçeau has pulled out all the stops tonight. He’s told us he’s using recipes he has never before produced for the show. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

‘Chef Marçeau has requested, unusually, to be judged first in this competition.’ The view switches to an interview held earlier that day, showing Milgren in neat chef’s whites. Lairen’s voice asks, ‘Does it bother you that Chef Marçeau insisted on first presentation?’

The pilot grins. ‘Absolutely not. I have no idea how serious he’s taking it, but I’m just here to have fun, y’know?’ He winks cheekily at the camera.

‘So it’s time to see what Chef Marçeau is up to.’ The camera has switched back to following Terric through a set of elabourate double doors and in amongst the chaos within. Cuisiniers bustle about, and the camera pans across, pausing as it finds sights which meet its programmed AI standards of ‘interesting’. It zips back on topic as the presenter locates the master of the mayhem.

‘Well, as you can see, everyone in here is very busy indeed, but, Chef Marçeau, we were hoping you could give the viewers at home a hint of what you have in store for our panel of judges.’

Marçeau’s features arrange into his patented ‘camera attitude’: part jovial fat man, part superior professional. ‘Very well, Terric, since you asked so nicely.

‘What we have right here is the sauce which will eventually go into the main dish, which is going to be a classic Gallente savoury mille-foile. As you can see, we have Jirata here slicing the sausage which will form some of the layers between the pastry Hira is rolling out at the far end of the worktable.’

The camera pans and focusses as the chef indicates different members of the staff, zooming in on Hira’s delicate hands wielding a roller over a flake-thin sheet of dough.

‘We’ll be alternating the sausage layers with this fresh dark broadleaf–’ the chef hefts a wildly leafy bundle of greens ‘–and a regional goat’s cheese we had imported this morning. Over here…’ Marçeau slips amongst the workers, nimble despite his bulk. He leads the way to a workspace along one wall where a commis is toasting flatbread sliced into strips in a pan over an open gas flame. ‘This is in preparation for our starter, which is to be crisped Caldari flatbread served with a selection of patés created using a base of Caldari protein paste… I can see by your expression you’re not convinced. Give this a try.’ The chef breaks off a section of flatbread which looks slightly over-done and scrapes a rime of greyish paste from one of the bowls, passing it to the presenter who looks a bit anxious. Terric hedges a moment, then nibbles cautiously; his expression quickly turns to surprise.

‘Oh my word. What’s in this?’

Marçeau chuckles. ‘Trade secret! We have three varieties we’ll be offering today like so…’ He swiftly arranges spoonfuls of the patés on a blue glass dish and surrounds them decoratively with sections of flatbread raying outward like a solar corona. ‘There’s just enough there to clear the palate without destroying the appetite. Next, over here we have our salad course.’ He leads the presenter and tagalong camera drone over to another worktable near a rank of ovens set into one wall. A cuisinier and commis are working with the care of sculptors over the items before them.

The chef picks up a spongy cup-shaped white fungus. ‘These are Amarrian grail mushrooms, so called because their rims turn up rather than down. As we all know, Amarrian cuisine is humble yet elegant, so what we’re doing is filling the mushroom caps with a lightly-seasoned mixture of saffron finegrains and chopped capsicum. Then these will be baked until the mushrooms just begin to curl over the contents, and because of the structure of this fungus, they’ll stand upright all on their own.’

Terric looks impressed. ‘That is elegant. And as you showed us earlier, the mille-foile is the main course, and I can smell it baking already. What, sir, have you planned for your finale?’

Marçeau’s broad face looks crafty. ‘A Matari tradition, my friend.’ They move over to another table where one cuisinier is stirring something white and glutinous in a heated pot whilst another finely grates cinnamon sticks into a small glass dish. ‘This is a boiled grain pudding, and I can tell you don’t think it looks like much of a dessert. Once the grains have reached a sort of mushy consistency, we’ll be adding honey and spices and setting the lot aside to chill until it’s needed.’

‘And this, you think, is better than anything Milgren could possibly come up with,’ Terric jibes. Marçeau draws himself up, smiling but with a hint of proud assurance lurking underneath.

‘My dear sir, I’m certain Milgren doesn’t have the cooking talents to match his ability to find a crooked publisher.’

The camera returns to the presenters’ studio to show an amused Lairen. ‘Well, there’s some competitive drive there! Let’s see what Pilot Milgren is working on.’

The introduction is the same, following Terric through another set of double doors. The sight on the other side is vastly different, however. Loud music is blasting from a portable audio system propped on one of the unused countertops, and the only soul in the room is Milgren, the Sebiestor bobbing his head in time to the music and practically dancing as he works.

The presenter has to clear his throat and call, ‘Pilot Milgren? Excuse me!’ over the music. The capsuleer notices immediately and turns the volume down.

‘Hey there.’

‘Good evening, sir. We’ve already seen what Marçeau is up to; would you mind showing the viewers at home what you have up your sleeve?’

Straight-faced, the pilot rolls up the cuffs of his white chef’s uniform, revealing heavily-tattooed arms; then he laughs. ‘Just messing with ya! C’mon over here.’

The pilot leads the way to where two pots of thick reddish liquid are setting at just below a simmer; one pot is significantly smaller than the other. ‘This is the starter. I decided to go with a signature Gallente seafood bisque, since it’s not very filling.’ He runs a ladle through the larger of the two pots and displays the lumps of vegetables and various types of shellfish floating just beneath the surface. ‘There’s two pots here because someone told me one of the judges is allergic to seafood. The smaller pot is the vegetarian variant of the same recipe; I can’t use a different sort of meat because this sort of bisque isn’t meant for anything other than seafood and vegetables.’ Milgren glances at the presenter and shrugs. ‘I know it’s breaking form a little, but I’d rather not have someone sitting with an empty plate while everyone else is digging in, y’know?’

Terric’s eyebrows peak but he says nothing against the decision other than, ‘Well, that makes some sense, I suppose. What’s all this over here that you were working on when I walked in?’

‘That’s the salad course.’ The pilot has laid out on another worktable several small squares of dough; a liberal scattering of flour and unwashed tools gives evidence that the dough was made by hand. ‘These are what the Caldari call “garden wraps” — don’t ask me to pronounce the original name. What it is is this very thin pastry, it’s just flour, water and egg. Once it’s rolled out, you cut it into squares the length of your hand. Then you julienne a bunch of vegetables really fine — I’ve used daikon, cabbage and a few root vegetables that are common on Caldari Prime.’ Milgren demonstrates: ‘First you arrange the vegetables on the pastry in a sort of fan shape and drizzle a little of this lemon and ginger sauce over it. Then you fold up the wrap, bottom point first, then the sides, so it looks a little like those weird flower-pots they have, y’know? Then we bake the wraps for maybe a minute at a very high temperature. The dressing keeps the vegetables from drying out or wilting in the heat, and the wrap turns crispy.’

The presenter is looking fascinated. ‘I thought Caldari dishes were traditionally quite bland… this is authentic cuisine?’

‘It is entirely authentic,’ Milgren nods. ‘And it’s in keeping with the Achura belief that you should have five colours in every dish to maintain a balance in the body’s energies.’

‘How… um, fascinating. What are you working on for a main course?’

The Minmatar tilts his head towards another wall-mounted flame unit. ‘Over there.’

On a low flame, a large clay crock is rattling away cheerfully. Milgren lifts the lid and a great puff of steam fogs the camera momentarily. ‘This is a traditional Matari thing, braised rock-hen. It’s common enough among planetary slave colonies; free Minmatar have added a little sophistication by adding wine and cream to the sauce along with the usual tomatoes and green onions.’

Terric’s eyes are watering a bit. ‘That’s quite a potent wine.’

‘It only smells it; the alcohol content is actually really low.’

‘Well, you say that, but we all know the formidable capacity Minmatar possess when it comes to liquor.’ The two men laugh, Milgren broadly, the presenter more reserved.

‘It really is low, the bottle’s over here.’ He passes it over and Terric inspects the label.

‘So it is. I do notice, however, that you have used the entire bottle.’

‘Waste not, want not, right?’

The Gallente presenter looks at the pilot speculatively as he hands the wine bottle back. ‘Were you ever a slave, Pilot?’

‘I was never a slave. Would it matter if I was?’ He shrugs and replaces the lid on the crock.

‘I… suppose not.’ Terric seems a bit off-balance and covers his falter by asking, ‘I notice you have nobody to help you in here. Does it bother you that Marçeau has that extra edge in his preparation?’

‘Nah. I’m used to setting up for dinner parties and stuff on my own, y’know? I think if you’d tried to give me staff to do the work, they’d all be out in the nearest bar right now ’cause I’d've sent them off!’ The pilot chuckles. ‘You don’t have as much control over what you’re making of you tell someone to do it for you, y’know?’

‘Hehe, I see. There is one thing I don’t see out here; this is meant to be a four-course meal. What are you plotting as a dessert?’

Milgren’s face takes on a delighted glow. Excitedly, he leads Terric and the camera over to the large refrigeration units and opens one. The two covered glass bowls he brings out are frosted from the chill; one contains small, pale orange fruits floating in amber liquid, the other is filled with a pale violet cream. ‘I won’t be assembling this till I’ve served the main course. These,’ he announces, holding up the fruit dish, ‘are jaii-fruit. I’ve taken the spiny skins off and removed the massive pits, so they’re really just hollow spheres chopped in quarters. The stuff they’re sitting in is an Amarrian brandy native to the area where the sect which doesn’t like cinnamon is located.’

‘This is one of their recipes?’

‘Yep. When it’s time to make the dessert, I’ll reserve the brandy as an aperitif and put the fruit in serving dishes. Then comes the fun part: lighting the fruit!’ There’s a gleeful look on his face that’s just the slightest bit worrying. ‘You set them on fire, and it burns off the alcohol and crystallises the sugars. Then you put it out with this,’ the pilot holds up the other bowl, ‘which is a cream made using almond milk and Amarrian chillies which have gone purple.’

‘Is the purple part significant?’ the presenter asks. The pilot nods.

‘It’s the stage when the peppers take on a sweeter flavour while retaining their heat. It’s what makes the cream turn blueish like that. Then you dust it with a little cacao powder.’ He looks pleased with himself. ‘It was a real bitch to get the brandy in time, but it’s definitely worth it.’

Terric chuckles. ‘Is that what had security at the docking-bay so concerned last night?’

‘Among other things, yeah,’ the pilot admits with a nonchalant air as he returns the bowls to the refrigerator.

‘Out of curiosity… It’s my understanding that there are some bad relations between yourself and The Scope network, which is why they’ve refused to broadcast this particular show. Is there any particular reason for this?’

Terric has the blandly curious expression of an interviewer. Milgren eyes him, then glances at the camera floating above and behind the presenter’s right shoulder. He smiles faintly and says, ‘I have nothing to say about that, thank you.’

‘Well, we’ll let you get back to your work and return to the studio. Lairen?’

The view returns to the other presenter, now in the studio’s faux-wood-panelled dining-room, standing ostentatiously before a neatly-set table bearing a full array of genuine silverware, crystal glasses and spherical oil lamps which have already been lit.

‘Well, it’s time to bring our judges in and start the tasting with Chef Marçeau’s painstaking dinner.’ She gestures off to her right and a group of ten people of different races and bloodlines enter the room, either smiling and relaxed or solemn and straight-backed as each one’s custom dictates. They move to stand behind the chairs placed around the table and Lairen starts at one end and works her way around clockwise with introductions, her pronunciation of each foreign name flawless. Some of the critics have been on the show before; there’s a general exchange of pleasantries, and then the presenter leaves so that there won’t be any potential pressure for bias.

Unobtrusive camera drones stir and flit about as somewhere a chime sounds and the doors to Marçeau’s kitchen swing open. The rotund chef stands impressively just inside the door as his assistants enter bearing trays of the decorative starters.

‘Mesdames et Messires, I present Caldari paté with toasted flatbread,’ Marçeau pronounces grandly. A server circles the table filling the judges’ glasses with sparkling water from a carafe, then the chef and staff make their exit.

The judges murmur amongst themselves about the presentation and the visual quality of the offering, but most seem reluctant to indulge in the delicacy. Eventually, Eria Karamora from Jita takes the first plunge, perhaps encouraged by her familiarity with Caldari cuisine. The others watch with bated breath, as if fearing the blond woman might fall ill, and there’s a general sigh as she nods and pronounces the starter edible.

As is the custom in such competitions, the judges only consume enough to obtain opinions. When everyone has sipped from their water to clear the flavours, another chime sounds and the salad course is introduced.

And so it continues. The cameras get close-up views of the artistic arrangements of mushrooms on broadleafs, of the small, perfectly pyramidal towers of mille-foile garnished with a scattering of chopped green herbs, and the crystal dishes of sweet pudding decorated with sprigs of fresh mint. Some of the judges don’t approve of all the dishes, but they keep their opinions neutral and merely comment on what they appreciate. The presenters are silent, allowing the tableau to play out for the viewers.

When Marçeau’s meal has been tested, the judges adjourn to another room and the table is cleared. The camera view returns to the studio, where the presenters have been joined by the chef.

‘So, how do you think that went, Marçeau?’ Lairen asks.

The portly chef smiles graciously. ‘I think Milgren may be wasting his time, but I have no idea what he’s prepared.’

‘It looked a bit like Safit JiDan from Khanid wasn’t particularly impressed with the salad course; does his reaction worry you a bit?’ Terric asks. Marçeau shrugs.

‘The others seemed to like them well enough. We shall see.’

A chime sounds, and the camera returns to the dining-room. This time, the settings are plain, with what appear to be hand-thrown clay cups, delicately-carved wooden utensils and raw wax candles. The critics seem mildly taken aback as they enter, though Lito-ndar Okapo from the Vherokior tribe seems delighted; she picks up a three-tined fork to examine the floral vine carved around the grip more closely, then replaces it with a sheepish smile.

The starter course is served personally by Milgren. He enters with a large tray of clay cups containing the soup balanced impeccably on one arm, and not one drop is spilt as he places each serving before a judge; the vegetarian version, clearly marked by a different-coloured saucer beneath the cup, is placed before the appropriate critic last, and the pilot explains the difference to the Achura who only barely contains his expression of deep relief.

The Gallente critics look impressed with the starter, while an Amarrian critic eyes the large lumps of shellfish with some doubt. The salad course pleases the two Achuran critics, and one comments on the precision of the presentation. When Milgren presents the main course, it’s easy to imagine the aroma of the artistically-arranged slices of poultry simply from the expressions on the critics’ faces.

The jaii-fruit and brandy dessert is the crowning moment, however. The pilot enters bearing the same large tray, the hand-blown glass dishes still steaming from having been recently extinguished, the pale violet cream contrasting interestingly with the rich gold of the crystallised fruit. The Ni-Kunni Tali’a Vaskal openly exclaims with pleasure, then looks embarrassed for his outburst. Milgren finishes serving, pours the brandy and exits with a flourished bow.

The camera returns again to the presenters and Terric says, ‘Pilot Milgren has informed us that he will be late in joining us here in the studio, as he must, quote, repair the mess he made in the kitchen, unquote. While we await his presence, Chef Marçeau, what did you think of the pilot’s presentation?’

The studio’s master chef looks somewhat put-out. ‘I’ll admit I was surprised when I saw he’d brought his own table-settings, and creating a substitute option for the allergy-sufferer was a bit off-form. Personally, I can see little of Milgren’s dinner which is exceptional, though he has demonstrated more cooking ability than I gave him credit for. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what the professionals make of his efforts.’

‘Our judges have adjourned to their debating chambers to confer,’ Lairen states. ‘Chef Marçeau, did you spend a lot of time considering your choices for this evening?’

The small-talk continues for a few minutes, then the chime rolls through the studio. The critics have reached a consensus. Chef Marçeau and the presenters make their way to the dining-room, where the table has been cleared and now displays a chilled magnum of champagne and several fluted glasses.

Syddaryn Trynn of Intaki steps forward, accepting the role of the food critics’ unified voice.

‘It’s been a very difficult choice we had to make this evening. Chef Marçeau, we recognise that you have had extensive training and the dishes you prepared were exquisite. Pilot Milgren’s skills are purely self-taught, and the meal he prepared was impressive for one man working alone. But this light-hearted competition is not about which chef is the most skilled; it is about which knows galactic cuisine the best. Chef Marçeau, you undoubtably have spent years studying food from around New Eden; Pilot Milgren has spent years experiencing the same.’

The camera focusses on Marçeau’s face, and his confident smile is seen to slip just a little as the lanky food critic moves to the table and picks up the champagne bottle. Turning back to the camera, he says with a hint of regret, ‘Chef Marçeau, your work tonight was extraordinary, but a bit too inventive and at times digressed wildly from the native qualities which were part of our judging criteria. Pilot Milgren not only produced traditional recipes with skill, he did so with an innate knowledge of the local customs from the areas where the recipes originated.’ Syddaryn hefts the bottle before him. ‘The man of the hour, this hour, is Capsule Pilot Vaas Milgren.’

There is a delicate smattering of polite applause from the assembled critics and presenters. Chef Marçeau looks a bit chapfallen but puts a smile on anyway. The cameras focus on the doors to Milgren’s kitchen.

After a moment, Terric jokes, ‘He must have that music on loud again.’ The presenter pushes the doors open, and music blasts forth as he disappears inside, going quiet again as the doors swing back.

He emerges a second later, holding the flour-spattered, silenced audio system and looking dumbfounded. ‘He’s not there. Wherever could he have got to?’

There is a flurry of activity from off-screen, and the camera drones, sensing ‘interesting’, turn to survey the commotion. Uniformed security officers are running for the door out to the rest of the station whilst one who appears to be in charge steps forward to speak quietly to the presenters. Both polished
professionals look stunned at whatever it is the man tells them, then struggle to retrieve their composure.

After a moment, a report comes through and the presenters of Cuisine of New Eden step forward.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid we were not wholly informed of Pilot Milgren’s activities,’ Lairen begins. ‘According to our station’s chief of security, Pilot Milgren is an outlaw, and the terms of his appearance on the show tonight were that he was to turn himself in afterwards.’ Her expression is one of disbelief.

‘It seems,’ Terric adds, ‘that whilst the final course and judgment were being held, he managed to evade security and made his way to the clone bay, where he utilised a jump-clone to leave the system. As our security has no right to seize the empty clone he left behind, all that is left for us here at the studio is to wish Pilot Milgren congratulations on our critics’ final call, and bid all you viewers at home a good night.’ He smiles urbanely into the camera as Lairen stares at her co-host, slightly agape.

And the credits roll.

This article was first published on – an independent EVE magazine ( Reprinted with permission.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Design Flaw

Station Commander Arisin Korth leaned with his elbows on his desk, holding his head in his hands, wishing he could have a drink on-duty. Or several drinks. He needed them.

Nobody seemed to understand what station commanders had to go through every day. Yes, they had a vast command and sub-command network to maintain and manage the metropolis-sized platforms and their thousands of residents, let alone the transient spacefaring population. At the end of the day, when people didn't know what to do -- or were reluctant to take responsibility for difficult decisions -- it all came back to land on his overflowing in-box.

As if that wasn't bad enough, being in Gallente space meant that certain Amarrian standards had to be relaxed lest they rankle the delicate democratic sensibilities of their gracious hosts. The maintainence and service staff had to be hired and paid reasonable wages, rather than being brought in from a nearby slave colony -- immensely more convenient, and it meant he wouldn't have them all threatening to go on strike if their wages were not raised.

There was a hesitant tap at the door. 'Sir?'

His voice muffled behind his hands, Korth answered, 'Yes, Vernire, what is it now?'

The door opened. Docking Supervisor Scott Vernire looked more apologetic than ever. 'I'm terribly sorry, sir, but... there's a problem in hangar 4212-B.'

Sighing, Korth ran his hands back over his hair, carefully shaved to look respectably recessed, then clasped them on the desk in front of him, regarding the supervisor tiredly. 'What kind of problem?'

'Well...' The younger man bit his lip and straightened his jacket nervously. 'One of the capsuleers bought a capital ship. He's having it assembled just now and... Well, sir... It doesn't fit.'

Korth's long features sagged. 'Doesn't fit. The grandest cathedral complex on Amarr Prime could fit in those hangars with room to rattle, and someone's bought a ship which doesn't fit?'

Vernire's face crumpled unhappily. 'Yes sir. You... I think you should see for yourself.'

They left the office and took a lift down to the hangar in question and went to the observation lounge. When he saw the problem, Korth stopped dead, his mouth falling open. 'My God...' he breathed. 'What is that?'

It was dark, rusty red, marking it clearly as a Minmatar design, eye-achingly ugly against the soft golds and ivories of the hangar, its jagged lines threatening to pierce the graceful Amarrian arches. The null-gravity field suspended it upright above the platform as crew and construction drones swarmed around it like a cloud of insects, buzzing and snapping with bursts of welding sparks and crackles of raw electricity. The looming hulk rose from a delicate point into a towering blade shape bristling with solar panels and antennae, and ended in ragged, unfinished plates and gaping mid-construction holes a hundred metres short of the domed ceiling.

'It's... the pilot said it's a Naglfar,' Vernire says, stumbling a little over the unfamiliar name. 'Minmatar dreadnaught.'

'But for Heaven's sake,' Korth exclaimed, gesturing to the unfinished top of the ship. 'How far up does it go?! The hangar is only three kilometres high!'

Swallowing hard, the Supervisor retrieved a notepad and pulled up the design specifications. 'According to this, the dreadnaught is... f-four kilometres tall.' He blanched and looked at the Station Commander uncertainly. 'We'd have to remove twenty decks plus services -- at least! -- for that to fit.'

Korth rubbed his face, groaning inwardly. 'Well, best get started on it, then.'

'Uh. S-sir?'

'Start figuring out how to cut a Naglfar-sized hole in the hangar.' He looked at Vernire. 'Do you have any idea what these people pay us in terms of berthing, apartment rental, crew housing, entertainment? What we earn in a year is nothing to them. Get on the logistics to open up the ceiling in here.'

'But sir... how will he undock?'

Both men looked at the smaller arch of the hangar's exit into the docking lanes. Korth sighed, looking even more tired.

'You'll think of something.'

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Phantom Module Syndrome

There's an afterburner in my hangar.

No, no. No. I don't have an afterburner in my hangar.

It's just there.

It's not mine. I can't get rid of it. It thinks it's fit to a ship which belonged to the last pilot to use this hangar. Where this pilot went, or who he or she was, I don't know. I wish they'd come get their afterburner, since it's taking up space.

It's not even physically there. We can move it, and we have. Just into a distant corner to keep it out of the way. But if we try to remove it from the hangar, it... I dunno. It comes back. According to Aura, I can't sell it, repackage it, trash it, use it or can it... because it's fit to another ship.

And sometimes... sometimes it just moves by itself.

I dunno. We leave it off in that corner and it seems happy to stay there, but every once in a while, it'll be out on the docking ring where someone will invariably trip over it because they aren't expecting it to be there. It doesn't matter if we stuff it in a locker, crate it, cover it with other loose modules... it will still somehow end up looking like it's expecting us to fit it on something. But we can't...

And the weirdest part is that only my crew and I seem to be able to see it. We asked station security if anyone else had seen the Ghost Afterburner of Evati rattling its chains around their hangars, but they just looked at us funny and asked if we'd been at the absinthe again...

OOC: inspired by a glitch which caused a module icon to remain in my hangar after fitting a ship ^_^

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

We Have Our Reasons

I've received a fair few convos in the last day from people who are shocked or surprised (and in one case concerned; thank you, hon, that was sweet of you ^_^) to note the lack of an alliance ticker on my info sheet.

Yes, Hellcats has dropped out of The Bastards. alliance. So has The Bastards corporation. No, there is no internal drama which led to this. The alliance, which was initially only so we could take part in the Tournament, is in the capable hands of a holding-corporation.

The two corps are still continuing our close and mutually beneficial association. It's simply a case of it being much cheaper, at this time, to work as independant corporations than as an alliance.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Encounter with the Shadow of Death

I've been spending some time back and forth between Evati and Molden Heath, doing some quiet roaming to get used to the area and figure out where I really should not shoot people lest I get blobbed by the locals. It's an odd area, a different dynamic from what I'm accustomed to, though most of that may be that all of my work beforehand has been based from a system where my associates at the time held supremacy.

I was chilling out in the bar in the station I'd decided to base from in Egbinger, curled up in a chair with a glass of hot spiced apple brandy, still plugged into the local network and arranging to get gear shipped to both Egbinger and Evati when my personal comms pinged for a private convo.

A scan of Local and found not only the pilot but three of his mates in the system. Curious, I accepted the convo, and he left it as quickly as it opened.

Ah-ha. Gotcha.

Some people don't seem to have mastered the art of checking a pilot's info without opening a conversation. I wasn't going to let this guy, one Eon Drake of German Arnima Corp, get away so easily, and decided to poke a little.
[20:14:28] Shae Tiann > can i help you, Eon?
[20:14:45] Eon Drake > yes
He went quiet.
[20:15:11] Shae Tiann > /emote waits patiently for elabouration
After a moment, their intentions in the system were revealed, and I cracked up laughing, drawing curious stares from the other patrons:
[20:16:55] Drummer 061 > come out the station :D
[20:17:32] Shae Tiann > so you can gank me? ^_^ thanks, but foursomes aren't my thing
[20:19:38] McMelch > alright, i liike threesomes more, too
[20:20:17] Shae Tiann > aw, now we wouldn't wanna make my boyfriend jealous
[20:20:25] Shae Tiann > /emote gets cosy in the station lounge
[20:20:42] Drummer 061 > what is cosy?
[20:20:49] Shae Tiann > comfortable
[20:22:49] McMelch > it's not necessary that your boyfriend see us o0
[20:23:19] Shae Tiann > ah, but I'm a one-man kinda girl
[20:23:56] McMelch > i feel sad to hear that :(
[20:24:06] Shae Tiann > sorry, dear
[20:24:38] McMelch > ah, i can handle hits like that
Apparently bored with flirting and realising I wan't going to hand myself over to be shredded, they drifted around awhile and eventually their icons disappeared from Local without even a word of farewell.

That's antipirates for you: heartbreakers, every one.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Nullsec Changes Hands. Again.

There's not much I can say about today's events that others haven't already said. Because my priorities last night involved spending some quality time with Chu, I missed the initial furor that washed through New Eden's communications systems like a tsunami (what? doesn't everyone turn their comms off when they take time to tear their partner's clothes off and... well, I'll skip the details). By the time I caught up with events, I was reading the ripples that generate from the aftershock.

There are no heroes, here. No anti-heroes, either. This is not an homage to Istvaan Shogatsu, there was neither patience nor art involved. Goonswarm should not be accepting this windfall as if it is their due and Band of Brothers is solely responsible for their fate.

The information I have gleaned from the various infosources collates as follows:
Someone with director-level access to BoB's holding corp is disgruntled, and in a fit of pique handed the keys over to Goons.

The perpetrator is BoB's creation: they made themselves vulnerable by not being more cautious in whom they placed their trust, and through internal issues, made him upset enough to betray them.

The behaviour as witnessed in Goonswarm's press-release audio recording was juvenile in the extreme. Others have mentioned this as well: rarely have I heard such overt hatred expressed so shamelessly.

Band of Brothers will rebuild. They will clean the house which their long-running frat-party has so liberally trashed. They may even emerge the stronger for this; who can say? Goons will do everything within their powers to utterly fuck up everything of BoB's which has been left vulnerable in the mean-time.

And we who prowl the narrow boundary between Concord control and capsuleer space, will reap the benefits by continuing to shoot and ransom their pilots. C'est Eve.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Away Messages

I glanced around the sparse accommodations I'd been given, nodded once and dropped the small bag I'd thrown together at last minute. Asa had been left at home in Evati -- I trusted the girls in the corp to take care of her -- more from a press for time than the need to keep her out of range of Sard's boots.

I had wandered down to the hangar yesterday and who should have been sitting with his feet propped on the upholstery to the cleaning staff's dismay, but the devilish lone-wolf Sebiestor himself.

'What the bloody hell are you doing here?'

He'd grinned and slouched lower. 'Escorted Venom back down last night. I'm always up for seeing a cute girl home safely.' He winked and I couldn't help but grin back.

'Wanna get a drink?'

'Actually, I was wondering if you'd want to come with me back to Eg.' He glanced up with a deceptively ingenuous smile.

I took maybe half a second to think about it. 'I'll get me stuff.'

'Stuff', when you're as accustomed to moving as I am, consists of a couple sets of clothes and a notepad with the most recent book I've been reading downloaded into its memory. There's no room for matched luggage in space, where every cubic centimetre counts, and I have neither the time nor patience to put up with the sort of mentality that requires half a wardrobe for a weekend away.

I slapped a note on my office door as I passed on my way back to the hangar.

This trip, I thought, could make or break me. I'd never really done anything like this before: secondary bases for goofing off, ratting, just to get a little peace and quiet and personal space, sure. But a secondary base with intent to engage in solo and small-gang action away from the support of my alliance, that was a new thing. I'd always felt I was failing myself, somehow, by never taking a solid 1v1 engagement, even if there was no way I could lose.

I gave up on massive alliances and heavy action because I prefer to not be just another face in the crowd. Small-scale corps and alliances are much less hierarchical, since everyone is needed to keep the system running; it's less about following orders and schedules and more about taking initiative and backing up your mates when the call comes in.

Not that I'm much of a Lone Wolf; rather, I like to feel that I'm useful and in some way important. And lately, I felt, I'd been letting everyone down.

I thought briefly about a certain Minmatar colonel who'd been hanging around the area lately. I could see what he was trying to do, even if the others seemed blissfully oblivious; his conviction was admirable, but it wasn't my conviction, and while I was happy to lend a hand, I'd had the most fun nearly getting my head blown off by that factional gang.

I'd retreated from the field with a fraction of my structure remaining; parked in a midpoint safe listening to the organised chaos descend into proper chaos, I had to shake my head. We're outlaws. We plunged so far down for our own personal reasons, and I harboured no illusions that anyone not in our fleet would see us as being friendly... or that Roc Wieler could make us clean up our acts so easily. Two of the people who'd been shooting me had been Minmatar, and I had their killmails to prove it: I'd only shot people who'd aggressed me. I'd had too much damage to risk leaving my pod in order to help the girls clean up and mourn the losses; all I could do was wait for my criminal timer to wind down until I could make my way out without stargate sentry gunners finishing the job. My girls knew the score: if they weren't willing to run the risks with me, they were gently advised to find a better captain.

So when I returned to my new, echoingly empty hangar, I hopped up on a crate and called the crews over.

'I want to thank you all for coming out here with me. We're all a long way from home, and this is risky territory. My hauler's called in that she's having trouble getting the ships down through the gatecamps just now, so most of you will be cooling your heels til she gets here. If anyone has second thoughts about this, you should go talk to the Crewmaster about a transfer or hop the next InterBus back to Evati.'

Nobody moved. After a moment, a voice rose from the crowd; I couldn't see who it was, so I guessed the speaker was Kamie Oranys from my Thorax crew, who was much shorter than the rest.

'Are we gonna go kick some arse, sir?'

Definitely Kamie. She'd met me in the hangar after surviving the last 'Rax loss with a massive grin on her face which had nearly matched mine, high as a kite from the adrenalin rush of undocking with the intent to die taking as many down with us as possible.

'I certainly hope so. We'll probably get kicked a lot, too, more than usual and probably a lot harder.'

Ania Dsirka, from the Vexor crews I'd recently hired, shrugged expressively. 'Shit happens. We're trained for this. You're not exactly playing God with our lives, you know; if we aren't there, you'll have a hell of a hard time keeping everything running tip-top.'

Others in the group were nodding and Kamie piped up, 'Let's show 'em that the Hellcats are a name to be feared!'

I felt a grin spread across my face.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Hard Defeat

Alas, we didn't do so well in our second round at the tournament. To be fair, the loss is harder since we're still glowing from last week's match against KIA. Cry Havoc dropped faction battleships and a lot of electronic warfare onto the field and beat us fairly soundly.

Video footage is now up here.

We still have a chance to get into next week's finals, though, so here's fingers crossed to that!