Thursday, 27 August 2009





'Mmh... what?'


'Oh... f'ksake...'


..tirr-*click* 'Hello?'



'Shae, why isn't there visual? It's Aevylen.'

'...Mom..? It's the middle of the bloody night, here.'

'Well, how should I know that? I just had...'


'...a fantastic lunch with the director of-'

'MOM... what do you want?'

'I'm not allowed to call my own daughter?'

'After sixteen years and not bothering to check receiver time, you need a damn good reason, or I'm closing comms and going back to bed.'

'Well, I was out having lunch with the director of finance from AuralImage Ltd... you know, Egonics' audio-production company? We went to this great little place down the Crystal Boulevard, it's at the top of the deRohe tower, and the view from there is absolutely fantastic by the way, you'd love it...'


'...And I was on my way back to the office and I was checking out the latest Sunrise Daily on my new optical implant -- they're all the rage down here, by the way, if you pay for the upper-end ones they overlay on your irises, too, to create colour effects -- and there was a picture of you on the third page! So I thought it would be great to catch up with you, and maybe-'

'Waitwaitwait... what?! What was the article about?'

'Oh it was some minor politician they spotted at an orgy in a pirates' den a couple weeks ago. The picture was of him with his "mysterious mistress" *giggle*'

'Hahahaha mistress. In his sordid dreams. I love that spin, "orgy". Hahaha fucking genius.'

'Watch your language, dear-!'

'Fucking make me, Aevylen. It was a party. I bet you've seen wilder ones with your friends from whatever fad company it is you work for now. At least we didn't need to pay people to take their clothes off.'

'They said two men were-'

'They'll say anything to get people to pay for subscriptions. That shit's not worth the code it's embedded in, honestly.'

'It's important information for anyone who cares about the political climate in the Federation, Shae-'

'You're disgusting. You leave Dad because you can't deal with his political career, and you still have the nerve to say that? You only called me because this gives you something to brag about with your little friends. Do you know what impression your precious editorials give about the Federation?'


'Lazy. Decadent.'


'Self-absorbed, uncaring about anything more than where the next nightclub hotspot is and who's supplying the newest legal narcotics.'


'If that's the way things are in the Federation, it's not surprising the Caldari were able to roll right over all those systems in lowsec and auction people's lives off to the highest bidder!'

'Young lady!'

'Oh screw you, you woke me up in the middle of the night because of some overblown gossip. Yes, I was there. No, I wasn't there with Inhonores. He's bottom-feeding scum and was trying to leech on me the entire night. Other than that, it was a fun party, any orgies occurred afterwards and in private, and no I didn't go to them, I spent the night with my boyfriend. And no, I'm not telling you who he is because you forfeited your right to mother me when you left us to follow your precious career categorising fashion trends. Is it fulfilling? Do you feel good knowing you've improved some faceless woman's social life?'

'You're one to talk! I'm improving people's standard of living, and you're out destroying their livelihoods. Don't you feel proud, killing some child's parents for a little ISK! Inhonores is trying to atone for his past, at least. You could at least give a shit about the shame you've heaped upon us!'

'Oh, pardon me for destroying your social cred. I didn't realise you would know what a broken family feels like. You think I don't know what I do? Fuck off, Aevylen, don't come back until you can tell one evil from another.'

'Don't you dare-*click*

'*sigh* Bitch...'



'System, block all calls from last ident and any that are associated with it.'


'*sigh* ...I need a drink.'

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

External Publishing v 2.3

‘What do you think’s going to happen?’

‘Did a spy tell the bad guys Capt’n Starke was there?’

‘Why did Capt’n Starke make his guys go through the gate ‘steada fighting?’

‘What d’ya think’s gonna happen?’

For the rest of the week, the children could talk of nothing else, peppering the adults with unanswerable questions. ‘Space Captain Starke’ had never ended on a cliffhanger. It was the talk of the village.

The teachers could barely get the younger children to focus on their lessons until one of the older students suggest they relate the lessons to parts of the show (If Alistair warps from planet 14 to planet 2 at 6AU/second and Captain Starke warps from planet 2 to planet 14 at 8AU/second, where will they pass each other if the planets are 20AU apart?) It was frustrating to rework lessons, but it kept the kids on-task.

At the community meeting that week, several parents raised concerns that the obsession with the holo-serial might not be such a good thing.

‘I can barely get them to focus on their homework.’

‘I had to suggest that Space Captain Starke would go collect firewood because he would understand the importance of keeping the house heated. We shouldn’t have to do that!’

‘It’s a good thing we only have the one projector here in the hall. Imagine if there was one for every house, we’d never get them outside.’

‘Two of the kids came here asking to watch old recorded episodes. I had to remind them that the projector is used for other things.’

‘Speaking of which,’ Scall, the chief communications analyst, piped up, ‘The last week or so we’ve been picking up an increase in Amarrian comms traffic nearby.’

‘How near?’

‘This system. It could just be militia fleets passing through…’

‘This is Thukker space. They would be mad to base here.’

‘Still, I think we ought to cut our broadcasts and recall all but the receiver satellite.’ Scall glanced around at the suddenly worried faces, knowing that what she was suggesting would reduce the colony’s contact with the Republic to nearly nothing. She hadn’t thought it possible to feel homesick for a place she’d never seen, but the thought of bringing the comms array in made her heart ache.

‘You think they’ll notice the array and find us?’

‘In a word, yes. It would be difficult to miss in a system this quiet.’

‘We’d be cutting ourselves off from the rest of the cluster, Scall.’

‘There’s still the focussed-band FTL transmitter on the ship here. It’s been refurbished, we can use it in an emergency.’

After debating options, the community council decided it was for the best. Scall and her team spent the rest of the night recalling the comms satellites. Aoli from the engineering crew started running through the numbers to reduce their electromagnetic signals to a minimum while still maintaining power to the water pumps. Once the satellites were stored, the ship’s refurbished generator was dropped to the barest trickle.


Space, the final battleground. The stargate floating above the small moon flares; once, twice, so many flashes they seem to occur simultaneously. As if on cue, the space around the stargate floods with ships.

STARKE: (voice-only)
Scouts, keep an eye on Local, tell me if it spikes. Everyone pick your targets and engage; this is a free-for-all. Warp out or jump if you need to.

STARKE’s Jaguar assault ship banks down and left, falling into a rough orbit around an Amarrian Omen-class cruiser, autocannons spitting fire as he kicks the afterburners in.

EDGRIET: (voice only)
Captain, we need to wipe these guys out fast.

STARKE: (voice only)
I hear you. Nobody pod these guys, it’ll take them longer to reship.

Bright explosions blossom as two enemy ships go down; the Amarrian forces, outnumbered, are dropping rapidly. The view shows for a moment STARKE’s piloting interface: shields fluctuating as boosters pulse, speed hovering at three-quarters as he turns for another pass, enemies bracketed yellow and red, the primary target highlighted by spinning arrows. Around him, ships sweep past; missiles, laser beams and blaster pulses flare. The stargate flashes as someone leaves the system, and the view switches to AVION’s Retribution. His control panel displays the list of pilots in their squad, STARKE highlighted at the top. Half of the Nova Elite’s names are flashing, damage display bars showing varying amounts of red. The alerts fade one by one as Amarrian ships die or flee under the onslaught. The Nova Elite and TLF forces move to a dead-space in between planets, where they are joined by those members of the fleet who had to leave the fighting.

STARKE takes stock as the fleet recuperates. Two frigates and a cruiser have been lost from EDGRIET’s squads, the pilots warping their pods to safety and returning to base. The Nova Elite have lost drones and an interceptor is smoking, its hull held together through the pilot’s sheer force of will until one of the other pilots can bring a remote hull-repair unit online.

STARKE: (voice only)
Commander, your boys ready for the assault?

EDGRIET: (voice only)
Are we ever. Vash, head on over to the control point near planet five, wait for the Captain’s signal to attack. Warping squad to control point near seven.

As one, the four squads enter warp, descending upon LORD GRIMLOK’s base like avenging demons, a coordinated attack upon the sentry posts first cutting off communications to the rest of the Amarrian Empire. Before the embers have even faded, SPACE CAPTAIN STARKE calls for the fleet to regroup, leading his Nova Elite and the TLF forces against LORD GRIMLOK’s base of operations

They are met with fierce resistance: LORD GRIMLOK himself, commanding his dreaded flagship, the Righteous Blade, brings his entire fleet to bear. It infamous Holder chooses to attack the invading force rather than make his escape; he is confident and assured, knowing that this time his nemesis is on Amarrian ground. The scene shows LORD GRIMLOK seated in a non-capsuleer captain’s chair on the bridge of his Armageddon battleship.

LORD GRIMLOK: (shaking his clenched fist at his adversary)
You won’t escape this time, Starke. This is the last time your Matari filth will taint my stars! Amarr Victor!

The battle is joined, furious and dizzying; where the earlier fight was a deadly dance, this one is a slugfest. Primaried frigates on both sides vanish in bursts of superheated gas as the gap between the fleets narrows, and then the Nova Elite and TLF are among the Amarrian fleet, the heavier ships unable to track the lighter wolfpack at close range.

All ships, focus fire on Grimlok’s ‘Geddon! Take that sonuvabitch down, then worry about his support.

Under the combined firepower of over thirty ships, the golden battleship melts quickly, its captain unable to reach his escape-pod in time. The support put up a token resistance, but most flee the system while STARKE’s forces take out their next set of targets. Voice-comms protocol has already collapsed; the pilots are cheering, laughing and chattering amongst themselves, and it’s all STARKE can do to get their attention and remind the pilots that they’re a long way from home in hostile space.


STARKE steps off the gangway from his Jaguar, hair still damp from a post-pod shower. He turns to run loving eyes over the battle-scarred hull before slipping a pair of shades on and turning to leave. His way is blocked by COMMANDER EDGRIET, who has appeared as if from nowhere.

That was some good work today, Captain.

She eyes him appraisingly as he reacts with surprise.

I’m certain it’s no more than you would expect of your own men, Commander. We owe you for your help today.

The Commander smiles at him.

It was a pleasure, Captain. I’m wondering if I could call on that favour now, rather than later?


The community hall erupted with a wave of cheering. The final shot of Lord Grimlok’s flagship exploding filled the room with a nova-bright flare before fading to dark red and then nothing. Among the children, Nikitta and Nareen were hugging while Komar did a wiggly victory-dance on his seating cushion.

Behind the rows of youngsters, the adults watched. Many were grinning at the children’s excitement, but a few looked puzzled or concerned. In the close-knit community, most had known Tiia Edgriet before she’d left for the Republic, and even five years on she was still recognisable.

Havah looked up at her husband. ‘If that’s really my sister… how real is this?’

Elaqh shook his head. He’d been wondering the same thing.


Sylar Starke sat with his feet up in yet another station-side bar. Alistair had joined him, and they sat talking quetly, sharing stories of their early days as pilots. Al noticed her first; Sylar turned to look.

‘Commander Edgriet. Have a seat.’

The tiny Sebiestor woman smiled and brushed her hair back over her shoulder. ‘Thanks. That was bloody clever, staging the final fight like that. Where’d you get the Amarrian ships from?’

Shrugging, Sylar took a sip of his beer. ‘Stole most of them. The pilots are ours, we’ve staged setpiece combat before. The ones I called primary after the ‘Geddon blew up were all empty of crew members, only a pilot in the pod.’

‘Very clever.’ Edgriet looked impressed, then thoughtful. ‘I’m glad you let me add the favour request into the script. I need your help, Captain.’

The two men sat up straight, looked at each other across the table, then at the Commander. ‘We were wondering about that,’ Alistair said.

‘You’ve still got some of that makeup on, you know.’

‘Yeah, I’ve not properly washed it off, yet.’

Tiia Edgriet leaned forward on her elbows on the table, long, delicate fingers interlaced before her. ‘You may recall that I have a bit of an ongoing disagreement with the General.’

At their nods, she continued, ‘This is because our intelligence has discovered that the village I grew up in has drawn Amarrian attention. Slaver attention. And the General – much less the Rebublic itself – can do nothing.’

‘Why’s that?’ Alistair looked keen; his expression had sharpened, his eyes taking on that look Sylar recognised all too well.

‘It’s in Ubtes. Thukker territory. We have no jurisdiction to go in and bring my people out, and while the Amarr don’t have any more right to operate there than we do, they have fewer scruples about it.’ Tiia looked severe. ‘I need to get my people to the Republic, or they’ll end up with the same fate our ancestors so narrowly escaped, and the slaver raid is planned for sometime next week.’

The CEO and the XO of the Nova Elite looked at each other; they could read each other well enough that speaking was unnecessary. Sylar turned back to Tiia. ‘What is it that you need us for, exactly?’

She smiled a little. ‘Leave the TLF. I’ve talked this over with my own men, and they’ve all agreed to this couse of action. We’ll leave with you, form our own operating corporation. We’ll be operating as independents, and because even the Thukkers can pick up your broadcasts, we’ll have evidence that the Republic isn’t involved. …Just tell ‘em I bullied you. What do you say?’

To Be Continued Next Week!
Same EVE Time, Same EVE Channel!

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

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Delayed by Steampunk and Amanda Palmer

Yes, the third part of Space Captain Starke is overdue by a day. This is because I've had to re-write part of it, and then the last two days were interrupted by this thing called a 'Social Life', also known as 'dressing up, going out and having fun'.

Space Captain Starke will be up later today.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Another milestone

It's the 20th of August 2009.

For most of you, this is just the date that the next Apocrypha patch is deployed.

For me, this marks two years since I started playing Eve.

When I first picked up the game, I hadn't a clue what I was doing. I'd watched Sapphrine, Mebrithiel, Giganticus and my then-flatmate Suze'Rain play the game, so I had a vague idea what I ought to be looking at. Cerys Magente and solosnake had regaled me with stories of what they'd done in the game when we were at a games conference here in Edinburgh earlier that month; it wasn't really til Cerys mentioned how she started Eve working with Privateers and solosnake yelled 'You BITCH!' at her in the middle of a reception full of game devs that I actually started thinking the game sounded like fun.

Suze helped me get started, but the choices I made in the end were all mine. I started Eve with something just shy of 900k skillpoints, one of several hundred newbies wandering around in highsec. Suze didn't think I would stick around for more than the two-week trial period. He was nearly right: I got incredibly frustrated with the ten-part newbie mission, and my paranoia was running high -- I'd never played an MMO before and had no idea what to expect. Suze introduced me to some friends in the game, watched me rage over the incomprehensibility and cower in terror in the station, and went off on holiday for the weekend. One of his friends, Abbel Nightroad, took pity on me, convinced me to fly with him into lowsec to go ratting, and by the time Suze returned I was having an easier time of things and I'd paid for my subscription.

I joined Abbel's corp at his invitation, started pvp'ing successfully with something like 1.2 million skillponts (see?! it's not the SP, it's how you use it!), and never really looked back. It wasn't easy, but it was fun. I learned from roaming Upper Syndicate and the lowsec areas around Stacmon, highsec wardecs and pirating in Kor-Azor. Things changed, as they do, and I tried living in nullsec for a bit. That was a mistake, and it wasn't til I joined the Hellcats that the fun in the game really returned, for me.

And now I've been in Hellcats for nearly a year. I've watched the average online population in Eve more than double from 17,000 (if there was more than 21,000, we were in for a lagfest) to 49,000. I've paid for an update to Shae's portrait after deciding I was tired of her looking like a heroin addict. I can passably fly every Gallente ship I want and starting to consider cross-training. Part three of Space Captain Starke is sitting open in Word on my other computer waiting to be edited, and the next big trip will be to FanFest in October.

Here's to the next year.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

External Publishing v 2.2

Sylar Starke strode through the corridors of the Tribal Liberation Force logistic support station in Hek, confident and self-assured. On the outside at least. Inwardly, he felt awkward and uncomfortable in this place, heart of the Minmatar Republic’s militia organization, and despite Alistair Avion’s presence at his side, his first instinct was to turn on his heel and leave.

‘This doesn’t feel like such a great idea,’ he muttered.

His second in command smiled slightly. ‘Give it a chance, Syl. It can’t hurt to at least find out if we can work with them.’

‘People are staring.’

‘Of course they are. You’re recognizable and I’m Amarrian. Relax.’

Sylar peered at Alistair from the corner of his eye. ‘You have that camera implant recording, don’t you.’

‘We need reference material.’

The Brutor grunted quietly. ‘Just don’t get caught.’

They reached their destination. From the muffled voices coming from the inner office, there was a mighty row in progress. Valklear General Lyre Hadhradir’s secretary, a harassed-looking Intaki, gave them a helpless look and asked, ‘Do you have an appointment?’

‘I didn’t know we needed one.’

The secretary shrugged and rubbed his stubbled jaw. ‘It’s not a requirement, but the General often has a full schedule. You’re lucky today, she’s just finishing up a, um… meeting.’

The office door slid open and a petite Sebiestor woman stalked out on long strides, barely sparing a glance for the room’s occupants. Sylar blinked as the closing door interrupted his view of her hips, then turned back to see the General eyeing him in much the way he might examine a stray dog. After a quick study of Alistair at his side, General Hadhradir stepped forward and offered her hand to the Brutor capsuleer.

‘Captain Sylar Starke, I presume?’

Sylar nodded, trying not to wince at the woman’s grip. The top of her head was at his eye level, but he still felt as if he was looking up at her. ‘It’s an honour, sir.’

The General laughed, a quick, humourless thing. ‘I should be the one saying that. My nieces and nephews idolise you. I’m more curious about why you’re here. Given your reputation, you’re rather the last man I’d expect to see in my office.’ She extended her hand to Alistair with a studied scowl. ‘I’ve seen enough of your work to figure out how it’s produced. I’ll have to ask you not to use any actual camera footage from this—‘

‘Of course not, sir, though I may ask if you’ll help us stage the scene later.’

General Hadhradin gave a quick nod. ‘We’ll see. Come in and have a seat, gentlemen. This ought to be interesting.’



‘Yes, Nareen?’

The two of them were up to their elbows in the week’s laundry, sleeves rolled up and hands reddened by the hot water.

‘How d’ you think Capt’n Starke will beat the bad guys?’

Her mother grinned. ‘You kids have been obsessing about that a lot haven’t you?’

‘You heard us?’

‘Well, you were being quite loud about it.’ Sapha chuckled as her daughter hid her face behind a soapy shirt. ‘I think he’ll have to ask for help from the Republic, sweetie.’

‘But Capt’n Starke, he hates the R’public.’

Sapha leaned back, stretching her spine after so long hunched over their work. ‘He doesn’t hate the Republic, Reenie. He thinks they don’t do enough. I bet if he asked and made a good argument with them, they’d help out.’

As they stretched the damp clothes over the lines to dry, Nareen’s mother mused at the sort of person who would create a serial holo like ‘Space Captain Starke’. It was a noble but utterly pointless thing: raising children’s spirits brought strength to the people who lived planetside, never knowing more than what the news services and government broadcasts had to say. Even out here, Amarrian propaganda stained the FTL comms relays, and the small community’s technicians were careful to block the less-scrupulous channels.

After the colony’s founding, their parents and grandparents had removed anything which smacked of the Amarrian religion, so that their children could grow up free. There were still arguments among the governing council regarding how much was ‘enough’. After generations enslaved, they had only the broadcasts from Minmatar space to guide them, and even some of those preached the Amarrian way of life.


SPACE CAPTAIN STARKE stands before THE GENERAL of the Tribal Liberation Force, a commanding presence in the small office. THE GENERAL is an equally powerful presence, but the Brutor woman remains seated behind her desk, looking solemn and serene.

As Chief Executive Officer of the Nova Elite, I wish to ask the assistance of the Tribal Liberation Force in removing forever the stain of Lord Grimlok from Matari skies. The operation will be perilous and we cannot do it alone.

THE GENERAL looks at STARKE carefully.

I assume you have a plan already?


AVION steps forward and places a portable, palm-sized holo-projector on the desk. The device blinks to life and a map of New Eden appears in the air.

We now know the location of Grimlok’s secret base.

The hologram focusses inward on a region, then a constellation, and finally a system near the edge of Amarrian space. A tiny point of red light between and below the second and third planets pulses ominously.

Our scouts checked it out, and it appears to be the real thing. He has a handful of small guard compounds throughout the system.

Four more points of red appear on the map.

If we take those out first, we remove Lord Grimlok’s ability to call for help in time. Once we secure his base, we can end his tyranny and bring the Minmatar one step closer to freedom.

THE GENERAL uses a stylus to examine the statistics of the target emplacements, frowning as she thinks.

THE GENERAL: (muttering thoughtfully)
It won’t be easy… but we’re accustomed to this sort of work out here. It’s not hit-and-run like your usual guerilla tactics, Starke.

This is why we came to you, sir.

THE GENERAL snorts, her full lips curved in a small smile.

You sound mocking even when you’re being polite. I’ll lend you two strike gangs – twenty good men and women – on the condition that, for the duration of our work together, your Nova Elite fly under the TLF. I want no dishonour on our name, Captain.

STARKE frowns a little, but after a moment’s consideration he gives a sigh of resignation and nods.


THE GENERAL stands, and she is nearly the same height as STARKE.

It will be an honour to work with you, Captain.

THE GENERAL offers her hand, first to STARKE, then to AVION. They shake firmly.

Likewise, General.


‘See?! I tol’ja he would ask them for help!’

Nikitta shushed Nareen, who was pointing triumphantly at the screen. The village’s children sat on cushions on the floor of the community hall – once the cargo bay of the ship their grandparents had slaved aboard – gazing raptly at the latest weekly episode of ‘Space Captain Starke’.

Nareen’s mother leaned over, tapping the flat of her hand sharply against the back of her daughter’s head. ‘You said that because I suggested it, honey. Don’t claim others’ ideas as your own, and hush so the others can hear.’

Rubbing her head – nothing was hurt but her pride – Nareen slumped sulkily as Sapha returned to her seat at her husband’s side. Risga wrapped his arm around her.

‘I wonder if that’s really the General,’ he murmured. Sapha nodded. There was something different about this week’s episode.


Sylar Starke hovered above the station in Dal in his Jaguar assault frigate, awaiting the rest of his ‘strike force’. The General had allowed the Nova Elite to temporarily join the TLF so as not to be marked neutral, and they’d worked out a method to make Sylar appear to be leading what was, in fact, a bog-standard bunker lockdown in a contested system in Amarr space.

Nineteen frigates, assault frigates, cruisers and interceptors – the best of the Nova Elite fighting force – undocked one by one and formed up around him. ‘Cap’, are you sure these guys won’t shoot us? Some of us are flashy, y’know…’ said Cherry. The Pator girl was one of the outlaws who had joined recently and she’d not yet worked to raise her status with CONCORD.

‘They better not; we’re marked as allies now. Isn’t that right, Commander?’ Sylar asked, discreetly reminding his crew that they were now on shared comms.

‘That’s right, Captain,’ Blade Commander Tiia Edgriet responded. ‘Any of my boys shoots you, he has me to answer to.’

Sylar grinned. The Commander ran a tight outfit to match what she normally wore, and after their non-introduction the other day when she’d stormed out of the General’s office, the Sebiestor woman had warmed to him. Or so he liked to think. The cluster needed more women like her.

Commander Edgriet was the real commander of the strike force. Her fleet instructions would be relayed to Sylar via a private comms channel, which he would then issue to the fleet. It was understood by all pilots that once they were underway, the entire operation would be recorded, comms and all. All the ships had been rigged with flight recorders which would send the feeds from their piloting interfaces to the specially modified covert ops frigate the Nova Elite used to film their fights. The TLF’s pilots had become extras.

‘Your boys ready, Captain?’

‘Always, Commander.’

‘We’re jumping in now. Meet us at the Vard gate.’

The Local comms population in Dal spiked with the arrival of twenty TLF pilots, and Sylar felt the pleasant surge in his ship’s systems as the second gang’s commander, Spear Lieutenant Imkara Vash, brought her fleet bonusses into play.

‘Oh, that’s good Lieutenant. Are all your massages this… invigorating?’

‘Wait until you feel my full-body special, Captain,’ the other Sebiestor woman chuckled. ‘Claymore is worth every penny.’

‘I can hardly wait.’

The run out to Arzad was uneventful, save a few neutral outlaws fleeing through their massed ships on the gates as the scouts checked ahead. ‘Let them go, don’t give yourselves timers.’ Sylar’s reminder was more for the benefit of the recording than that of the pilots. Nobody needed to be told the gate controllers wouldn’t permit someone to pass through if they’d acted with hostile intentions.

Arzad itself was a totally different story.

‘Riva here, there’s an Amarr fleet on the gate,’ one of the scouts reported. ‘Holding gate cloak, looks like two full gangs waiting for—shit!’

‘What happened, Riva,’ Sylar asked tightly.

‘Bastard inty decloaked me.’

‘You make it out?’

‘In my pod, yeah. Going safe off the gate.’

Sylar cursed to himself; this was unexpected. An icon lit up in the corner of his vision and he switched to the private and unrecorded comms with Commander Edgriet.

‘One of the neutrals we passed earlier may have been a sympathiser. There’s probably a scout watching us here.’


The gate flared suddenly and the safed scout reported, ‘They all just jumped in to you.’

Swapping comms, Sylar made a snap decision. ‘Jump-jump-jump. Everyone into Arzad and hold your gate cloaks.’ They would have to shake the hostiles before they could get to work.

To Be Continued Next Week!
Same EVE Time, Same EVE Channel!

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

A Sorta Fairytale

I never intended for this week to happen the way it did. If I'd known what would happen, would I have done anything to change it?

Probably not.

Zean, an acquaintance I met through Smak, dragged me into a bar one night. It seemed an alright sort of place, mostly frequented by capsuleers aligned with the Angel Cartel, so I went back a few nights later just to relax. I got talking with a Jolly-Rodger type named Hilion, and a raw rookie fresh from the University of Caille's capsule-piloting course. A couple nights later, I had some spare time, and the rookie was there again. His name was Caellach and he wanted to change the world for the better. I nearly laughed at that -- the idealism schools instill in their students is both amusing and sad at the same time -- but I managed to hide it because he really seemed to believe what he said.

About that time, the shit hit the fan; someone went nuts and knifed the bartender, and the bar's internal security turrets took the attacker out, along with most of the drinks on the bar. Some random Jin-Mei wannabe-politician started getting snarky about the situation and got a few teeth knocked out for his troubles. Caellach would have gone to the man's aid, but I held him back; fellow or not, when someone brings trouble upon himself, you don't want a share in it.

Cael had his own issues to work around. Uni cultivates idealism, it seems. Between myself, Kimochi Rendar and... someone else, I can't remember her name, we got the poor boy thinking about what he did. Really thinking, and he did not enjoy having his illusions shattered. The idea that the people he attacked might see him as little better than people like me had clearly never occurred to him. Governments are corrupt; their agents' only interest is in self-promotion, and the only way Cael was going to be a guilt-free defender of the people would be to go independent. Of course, being a rookie, going independent would be suicidal, so we started considering alternate routes for him.

It started to get late, and Cael had got incredibly drunk, and he apparently hadn't made accommodation arrangements with the station. He didn't even have a ship, having arrived pre-pickled via InterBus. I offered to let him kip on a spare bunk in the crew quarters on my Taranis, and he agreed. If he hadn't expressed any interest in me, that might have been the end of it; but he did and it wasn't, and he woke up the next day in my bed with a hangover and a massive grin.

I ought to have seen that possibility a mile off, but in all honesty the thought hadn't crossed my mind til he was standing there stumbling over an apology for kissing me. We ended up spending the successive three days together.

In the meantime, we managed to get Cael pointed towards a faction-neutral humanitarian corp. Well alright, Preli Light Industries are aligned with the Angel Cartel, but unless an idealist wants to go into politics, there's no way for them to actually be effective witout pissing governments off somehow. And idealists don't survive very long in politics.

I attended a party that Saturday night at the Three Sisters, a bar in Jel which had a pool in the lower level. I wish I'd known about the pool beforehand, but they had spare swimsuits available, so it wasn't so bad. Cael couldn't make it, which meant I had to suffer an otherwise stellar night with the wannabe Gallente politician attempting to weasel his way into my bed. He really was a slimy character, and it took bloody ages to get rid of him. Aside from that one downer, the night was fantastic, and I've not had so much fun in ages. A lot of people made impressive spectacles of themselves, some people won ships as a result of their antics. At the end of the party, I wandered drunkenly back to the room we'd arranged for the night, downed the requisite pint of water, and curled up next to Cael.

The boy was starting to become a habit, and I wasn't certain how I felt about that. He was a sweet kid, still very much innocent in his way of looking at the world, and I found that endearing. Would being around me be too much for him to retain that innocence? Jorge had a history before we met; I'd never needed to worry about him. But Caellach?

I would have to keep an eye on my Prince Charming, I decided, and say something if I saw him slipping too far.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Pool's Now Open

Hellcats has reopened recruitment.

People make a big deal of the Hellcats being a women-only corp. It's what attracts many of our applicants, and you know what? Everyone's got their focus wrong. We're pirates. We may be all female, but we are pirates first. We've had to put strict regulations on our application procedure because too many women simply wanted to be in a corp with only other women. This is the wrong reason for wanting to join us, and so many of the recent applicants just do not seem to understand that.

In the early days, Hellcats got our applicants from women who heard about us and had already been in the action for a while. The corp was an unknown and didn't have a reputation beyond Mynxee's public journal; women applied because they wanted in on the action, not a place to knit and gossip. Mynx and I had both been yarring it up for ages before Hellcats was even on the radar. It's only been in recent months that we've had women asking to join because their husbands/brothers/male friends have said, 'It's an all-female corp! you'll fit right in!'

Words cannot express the frustration.

It is from this 'recommendees pool' that we get the sorts of applicants we really don't want in the corporation. YES, I said there are people we don't want. What do we look like, Mrs Biddle's Happy Tea Society?

We get the sorts of women who are accustomed to leaning on others and letting them do all the work; the types who make their way through life by wrapping others around their delicate little fingers and whining for 'help'; the ones who'd rather sit around gossiping and painting their nails whilst riding on the credit of the group. These women are useless, or worse than. We may take raw rookies from time to time, but only if they show initiative and are willing to follow instructions; we are not a training corporation. We do not teach women to fly their ships; they should already know this. We do not accept women who can't bear the risks involved in an outlaw lifestyle or who simply want to wear the corp logo on their flight jackets.

We've even had a few applicants who detest the idea of working with men, which is so wrong I don't really know how to express it. Hellcats is not anti-male. We've been proud members of The Bastards. alliance and Doom Armada, and our more experienced members have previously served cheerfully in corps in which they were the only woman. We have husbands and boyfriends and generally get along better with guys. When an applicant says she doesn't want to fly with men... we really don't know what to say, because we can't understand why someone would not want to work with them.

An applicant walking into my office and being pushy, self-centred, passive-aggressive and trying to jump our now standard recruitment steps is not going to get into Hellcats. Someone who asks to join, then ignores all the relevant Read This First! information I give them whilst acting like they're already in and talking about how awesome they are is NOT going to impress upon us that they will be a benefit to the corporation. I'm a diplomat, and what that means is that while I'm smiling, nodding and being helpful, I'm making a note on our management boards that that woman is never to be accepted to the corp.

Yes, NEVER. She has wrecked her chances forever based on the first impression she has presented.

How many times do we have to say this?

So you want to go kill stuff? Go! Fit up a ship and run rampant through lowsec, you don't need a corp to do that. In the meantime, you'll have to go through the process like everyone else. If a girl simply cannot wait, then she lacks the most vital attribute in a pirate's arsenal: patience. Without that, a pilot is useless and a liability.

Hellcats recruitment is open. Please see the information here if you have any questions. If you wish to be considered as an applicant, by all means, join us in the Hellcats Pub comms channel, express your intentions and we'll see about getting you started!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

External Publishing v 2.1

Shrieks and fearsome shouts rang across the quad, slapping off the sides of the low mud-brick buildings. The sun shone hot through the noon haze as a desperate swashbuckling battle raged across the rough, cracked paving stones, bare feet splashing through the tepid puddles left over from the morning's rain.

'Avast, Capt'n Starke! You'll join my slave crew or- or it's out the airlock! For I am Lord Grimlok, king of the stars!' Komar yelled fiercely, pelting Nikitta with clots of damp soil. All around the two boys, their 'crews' fought, earth and small twigs flying as the children chased one another in an emulation of a pitched space-battle, outstretched arms mimicking frigate stabiliser fins.

Nikitta threw his own clump of dirt, hitting Komar glancingly on the ear and streaking the other boy's tanned face with mud. 'That's not right! Lord Grimlok says he's master of the stars! And we were playing Capt'n Starke 'gainst Capt'n Calus, a'member?'

'I- I don't wanna play Capt'n Calus! She's a girl!'

It was the wrong thing to say; Nareen stopped pursuit of one of the younger children and rounded on Komar, her long plaited hair flying, and demanded, 'What's wrong with bein' a girl?!'

The mock-battle rapidly degenerated into a shouting match as only seven-year-olds can produce, until their teachers came out to break up the fight with firm words, leading the children back inside to finish their daily lessons.

In the small refugee community on Ubtes VIII, adults simply smiled and shook their heads at the children's youthful obsession with the adventures of Space Captain Starke. The small colony had been established by happenstance and desperation by a crew of slaves who had defeated their capsuleer overlord and commandeered her ship. Now, decades later, the third generation were growing up free and the colony had only marginal contact with the rest of the cluster via the refurbished communications gear ripped from the heart of the long-dead Apocalypse battleship which had brought them here.

Unsanctioned radio operators frequently pirated unused channels to broadcast news, music and holos, some of it very much independently produced by amateurs. “Space Captain Starke and the Nova Elite” was one such independent production, following the adventures of a renegade capsuleer and his corporation as they fought the Amarr in the hinterlands to release captive crews. And if the acting seemed a bit over-done and the script contrived, the thin plotline was compensated for by the quality of the filming, and the special effects were top-notch.


The scene opens on a station-side bar; it is small and dimly lit, the furnishings worn through use but clean. Wide windows offer tantalizing views of distant stars in the murky crimson nebula of space. SPACE CAPTAIN STARKE sits at a table beside one of the windows, staring broodingly out over the curve of the station below, drinking a glass of juice with a slice of fruit impaled on the rim. A handsome Brutor still in his prime, the powerfully built captain looks weary, the dark tattoos on his face dulled. There is clearly something on his mind.

A wiry Amarrian man approaches and sits down across from STARKE without waiting to be invited. ALISTAIR AVION represents the epitome of all the NOVA ELITE fought for: the eldest son of a Holder who saw the error of his ways early in the series and rose quickly through the ranks to take the place of STARKE’s former second-in-command, the glamourous Gallente LIANE FORSYTH. LIANE was cruelly murdered, gunned down by LORD GRIMLOK at the end of the last season, and STARKE’s grief over her loss still colours his decisions. The CEO of the NOVA ELITE has become almost suicidally reckless in the last few episodes, and the effort is beginning to take its toll.

AVION leans forward with his elbows on the table, forcing a smile through his concerned frown.

‘We did it again, sir, why the long face? More slaves freed and it’ll take Grimlok weeks to recover from today’s strike action.’

STARKE shakes his head.

‘That’s just it, Al. Weeks. He just captures more of our valiant people or buys them from the slavers’ markets. Give him a fortnight and he’ll be back at our throats. I want to shut that fiend down for good!’

‘You’re talking about a massive action deep into Amarrian space, sir. We can’t hope to survive something like that.’

STARKE looks up at AVION, the hue of his tribal markings deepening with renewed vigor.

‘There’s always hope, Al. If we can bring Lord Grimlok to his knees, we’ll be one step closer to destroying the Empire and their slaving ways!’



‘Yes, Niki?’

‘D’you think Space Capt’n Starke can beat Lord Grimlok and bring down the Empire an’ stuff?’

They sat on the steps in front of their house. It was small, but it was theirs, and that made all the difference. Nikitta’s mother was scraping the tough hides from root vegetables into a bucket to be taken to the communal compost, while the vegetables went into a pot for dinner. She smiled. ‘I think Space Captain Starke can do anything.’

Nikitta bounced his heels against the rough bricks of the stoop. ‘Can I be like Space Capt’n Starke when I grow up?’

Setting aside her knife, Havah put her arm around her son, hugging him against her side. ‘When you’re old enough, we can contact the Republic like we did for your Auntie Tiia and they’ll test you to see if you’ll be a good pilot.’

Nikitta squirmed. ‘I don’t wanna pilot for the R’public. I wanna actually do something!’

His mother suppressed a sigh; Captain Starke’s scorn for the Republic and his opinion that they did nothing to improve things were legendary. ‘But in order to be a capsuleer like Captain Starke, sweetie, you need to train with the Republic first. Just like he did, right?’

The boy sulked for a moment, then said, ‘Can I get tattoos like Space Capt’n Starke?’


The Nova Elite presented the appearance of being untraceable nomads, moving from system to system and frequently living for days on end in their capsules. In reality, the pilots preferred to dock up at the end of each day, and the corporation maintained a tower on a largely worthless moon in Minmatar high-security space, which they used as their production studio.

Sylar Starke looked over the footage one last time and sighed, then shut the computer down. It looked good, but he wondered if it was the right way to end the series. It was a tough decision, after all the time and energy they’d put into it, but he was starting to feel the fiction taking over his life, becoming reality.

Or I’m just getting too wrapped up in my own legend. He rubbed tiredly at his eyes, resisting the urge to check the time, knowing he would regret it if he did.

‘I hope you know what you’re doing.’

Sylar turned to see Alistair propped against the wall, still heavily made up for the Lord Grimlok role, lighting a cigarette. ‘You already made Liane into a martyr. Do you really want to do the same thing to yourself?’

‘Three years, Al. We’ve been doing this three years.’ He waved his arm, the gesture encompassing the banks of audio- and video-processing equipment which wrapped around two sides of the room. ‘Liane wanted a change and she had that offer from her friend’s corp. I wasn’t going to stop her.’

Alistair removed his wig and leaned forward, resting his arms on the back of the other chair, studying his friend. When he’d told the Navy and the Empire where they could stuff their heavy-handed self-righteousness, he’d never imagined he might find his place making propaganda holo-serials. Meeting Sylar had been an eye-opening experience, and the things Alistair had seen since then had only reinforced his conviction that it had been the right decision. If the other pilot was having doubts, after so long… ‘And you want out now, too?’

The younger man sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair, hearing the back-support squeak in protest. ‘I need a change of pace. What we’re doing? It gives the kids watching some hope, but what about us? We roll the cameras, pop a few Amarrian ships, stage some angry Holder footage, and then what? Most of the people slaving on those ships die, Al.’

‘I know that too well, Syl—‘

‘And the ones we do rescue… it’s heartbreaking, how difficult it is to rehabilitate them. And we’re not doing anything, in the end.’

Alistair gripped Sylar’s shoulder. ‘Stop that. Like you said, we’re giving people hope. But don’t you think there might be a better way to do it than showing you dying taking “Lord Grimlok” out once and for all?’

Sylar breathed deeply, then blew it out quickly. ‘Do you have something in mind?’

Alistair looked thoughtful, then smiled.


‘An’ Capt’n— an’ Capt’n Starke, he, he’ll go neeeeeeeroww! an’ pew-pew-pew! an’ Grimlok, he’ll be raaaaaargh! An’ then Capt’n Starke, he’ll blow him up! Boom! Like that!’

‘But Alistair, he said they have to way into Amarr. The Emp’ress made them outlaws for defeating Capt’n Calus, so th’ police will be on Grimlok’s side.’

Komar shook his head fiercely. ‘They can’t stop Capt’n Starke! I bet he tricks ‘em like that time he sneaked into the Raiders station to rescue Liane.’

Nareen crossed her arms stubbornly. ‘He’d hafta steal Amarr ships to fly, then. Capt’n Starke would never fly Amarr ships! They use slave crews!’

‘But what if – what if he frees ‘em and says, “If you fly us to Amarr, you get to help us beat the bad guys”!’

Nikitta was shaking his head. ‘My ma said slaves don’t know any better. She said it took Gramma years before she liked nobody telling her what to do allatime.’

‘An’ there’s Vitoc, ‘member?’ Nareen chimed in. ‘Teacher Drilas was telling us ‘bout how the slaves are addi’tted to it and Amarrians use it to make ‘em stay.’

‘Well – well, if you’re so smart, how d’you think Capt’n Starke’ll kill the bad guys?’

Nareen and Nikitta looked at each other and shrugged.

‘I dunno,’ Nikitta said, ‘but I bet the Amarr won’t know what hit ‘em!’

To Be Continued Next Week!
Same EVE Time, Same EVE Channel!

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