Friday, July 22, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 7

Friday fiction! Escape pod here.


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 7

Thanan leant back in the seat and looked at his datapad. The GalNet news site showed numerous Police cruisers outside the Esalion university building. The story stated that there had been gun fire and a kidnapping. He had wanted to call Deuverin to find out what had happened but he didn't want to risk it. All the man had to do was to put a bullet in that cops head and evacuate. Had he really messed that up? If he had, it wasn't a complete disaster. The most they'd know is that he was behind it, although they'd not know what 'it' was. Given time they could put the clues together. However it would be a miracle if they were able to work his plans out for the information they could get from Deuverin and the university. He stood and walked out of the passenger cabin and down the corridor. At the end he descended a flight of steps and entered the cargo hold. In the centre of the hold was the device. It was rigged up like some kind of musician's stage. Metal lattice beams made up a box where the six molecular lasers were attached. All pointing to a plinth in the centre of the frame where the crystal was sat.

"Is it ready?" he asked as he approached.

"Yes sir. Obviously there is no way to test it but it is finished. Once activated, fusion should occur within the hour. Although all the calculations on this are theoretical. I would advise we are on the other ship and breaking orbit before you start the process. The scientists say one hour, I wouldn't give it sixty seconds. Nobody has done this before, we have no idea what will happen."

Thanan nodded. Everything about the mineral including its very existence was theoretical until he had found it in the uncharted system.

"And the back up plan?"

"It is complete. Cargo bay 2 is stocked with sufficient material. Once the process is active, should anyone enter and try and stop it, they will set it off."

Thanan smiled. He had no guarantee that his main plan would work. The scientists could be wrong about the mineral. It might not meltdown and start a cascade reaction in the planets atmosphere. Whilst not as effective, the backup plan was to fill the other cargo bay with dangerous waste and build a more traditional explosive. If the blue crystal did not work as intended, when the authorities investigated the abandoned ship it would detonate on sensing the intruders. Destroying the evidence in the process and casting a toxic cloud over the most populous city on New Caldari Prime. Millions would still die. Not the billions he hoped for, but a small consolation prize.

"Good work. Ensure everything is ready. We are taking the long way round so there is time. We'll be leaving Federation space in two hours."

Thanan left the workers to ensure the molecular lasers were set and returned to the cabin.

He picked up his datapad and navigated to a secure folder. A dozen video clips were located there. He picked one in the middle. His wife appeared, chained to a wall. The masked man in front of her ignited a plasma torch as she screamed. Thanan's fingers gripped the arm rest of the chair turning his knuckles white, a tear welled up in his eye as he watched. The rage returned. The rage that was driving him to destroy a planet.


-o0o-

"Six starships?" Riku exclaimed.

"Yes. They broke off in three pairs but are going in the same direction. All Viator class Gallente transports." Yoshi showed the blips on the main screen.

"Course?" the Captain asked.

"They left via the Algogille stargate. At a guess they are heading to Caldari space taking the hi-sec route. That'll swing them around the Uedema pipe. When they reach Perimeter it will depend if they are heading to Jita or New Caldari."

The bridge crew fell silent. Either target would be a crushing blow for the State. Jita 4-4 was the primary trade hub for the capsuleers, the destruction of that station would cripple the Caldari economy which was already relying on Amarrian aid to prop it up. However that would pale into insignificance against the destruction of New Caldari Prime and the billions of lost lives.

"We could alert the authorities." Yoshi suggested.

"Risky. We're not sure this isn't a decoy. Currently Thanan doesn't know we are on to him and know about the blue crystal. He might have already deployed it on the planet and a simple call could detonate it. How is the tracker we slipped into the book Aki?"

"It wasn't designed for space Captain. It works great on stations and planetside like at the university but difficult to pinpoint in the big black. The book is on one of the transports, we just do not know which one."

Sosa studied the starchart and rubbed his chin. He flicked through various filters showing the status of each gate such as the number of jumps and how many capsuleer ships had been destroyed.

"Looks like the Serpentis are busy. That gives me an idea. Yoshi put a call into command, the Legion is currently assisting in that area supporting the customs service. Get them to put a customs blockage on the Sivalka system. Let it be known they are searching all cargo vessels due to a Serpentis plot."

"Won't that spook Thanan?" Riku asked "If the bomb is already set up he might detonate?"

"Yes and no. Its happened several times in the last month, someone like Thanan will have factored that into his plans. I'm guessing he's got eyes on the gates, someone flying ahead in another ship. He'll have the option of doubling back but I don't think he'll take it. I'm betting he'll head here." the Captain tapped on the map "He'll wait it out. He wants to see the state burn in person so he's not going to rush. He'll go here and that's where we're heading."

"Awfully big gamble Captain."

Sosa nodded. Riku was right. If Thanan detoured he'd get so far ahead they might not be able to catch him. In that case it would mean a call to the Caldari Navy and hope the device was aboard one of those transports.

"Let's do it and hope Lady Luck is smiling on us."

The Captain left his bridge crew to carry out his orders and walked down to the recreation deck. The Katsu Maru may have looked like a rusting hauler on the outside and in the publically accessible decks. However the hidden levels matched the most luxurious private yachts. He found Doctor Gian and Detective Aleira having lunch. He grabbed a ready prepared meal from the serving area and sat down with them.

"Ladies, I need to ask your help again." he said.

"Anything." Doctor Gian said before Aleira could respond. She just nodded in agreement.

"Wait until I finish, you might not like it."

"To help save an entire planet, it's going to have to me something to put me off." Gian said with a smile.

"Well, we're seriously lacking on non-Caldari crew and we have to assume that Thanan's inner circle share the same views as him. The computer security on his ships is military-grade and we cannot hack in from range. We need to get into those computer systems and that's where you two come in!"

"Us? How can we possibly help the Legion hack starship computer systems?" Gian asked.

"I need you to go clubbing."

The two women looked at him quizzically.

-o0o-


Bique entered the Captain's Club on deck 14. The music was low and the lights bright. It was early and the bar was mostly empty. The orders were to stay on the ship and await instructions but he was bored. He could be back on the bridge in less than ten minutes, a lot less time than it would take to get the ship powered up and have undocking permission. They were not capsuleer ships, it took half an hour minimum to leave a station. Also his boss was clearly up to something illegal. All this cloak and dagger was leaving him in need of a drink and some relaxation. Plus Thanan wasn't going to kick off on him if he was doing something dodgy.

He walked to the bar and grabbed a Rust Rinse. He prefered the strong Matari ale and certainly needed something to take the edge off things. He glanced about, none of the usual bar-girls that frequented places like this were about. Wrong time of day. He guessed that was for the best. Didn't want to get caught with his trousers down, literally. However he really needed some company. He moved over to a booth and sat down.

Bique wasn't halfway through the bottle when he heard the clip of high heels on the deck plates. He crained his neck to see who it was and let out a low whistle to himself. The first one was Amarrian. She wore a sparkingling gold mini-dress and heels that looked like they could be used as an offensive weapon. Her friend was Gallente. Dark, dusky and wearing a metallic green dress that clung to every curve. They were laughing and joking as they approached the bar.

Back on the Katsu Maru the senior staff were gathered around a monitor. The grainy security camera feed from the bar was displayed on the screen.

"Seriously Riku. You couldn't have toned it down just a tad?" Yoshi sighed.

"Hey it wasn't me!" Riku protested "I showed them the costume store and they made their own choices. Blame the Captain!"

Sosa laughed! "Don't look at me either. I told them what we needed, this is their plan! Actually if you want to blame anyone you can blame Aki. We'd not need to do this if he could have hacked the ship's security remotely."

"Hey!" Aki protested "They are using a Esalion v4 algorithm on those ships. If it was military-grade I'd be in there now. That security is a whole different level. Makes military-grade look like the security on this bar's camera systems!"

Sosa laughed. "Don't worry. I know Thanan has taken extra precautions. We don't have the time for a bruteforce hack. The ladies will get us in."

"We'll I'm not happy with it." the XO grumbled "One might be a cop but she's not military and the other is just an egghead, a scientist. We're putting them both in a lot of danger!"

Sosa nodded. "They know the risks. They wanted to do this. We needed non-Caldari for this to work."

The officers fell quiet and looked back at the screen. It appeared the bait was working.

"Can I buy you girls a drink?" Bique asked as he approached the two women from behind.

The two women turned slightly and smiled.

"Depends what you expect in return." the Amarian purred.

"We're not cheap." the Gallente one he was more interested followed up.

Bique told the bar man to get them whatever they wanted and Gian replied with Gallente Champagne. The three moved over to the booth whilst the barman prepared the drinks.

"You girls looking to party?"

"Depends what we get out of it?"

"What do you usually get out of it?" Bique asked.

"Fifteen hundred each and we only work together." 

"Three 'K'? That's steep." he complained.

"Oh, we're very worth it. Say, as you are in here I assume you're a Captain. If you are going anywhere near the Throne worlds or Caldari hi-sec we could keep you company on your run for a reduced rate?" Gian purred.

Bique fell quiet for a moment.

"I might be heading to The Forge." he finally said.

"Well for five hundred each and a ride to any of the stations there we'll make it the best trip you've ever taken."

"I'm not docking at a station, going planetside."

"Does it look like we work with dropship pilots? We work with starship Captain, we need to be in a station."

"I dunno. Let me think."

Back on the Katsu Maru the atmosphere was tense.

"So the target must be Caldari Prime unless the bomb is being stored on a planet. It's possible the device is on one of the ships but we cannot be sure. We need to get inside one of them." Riku stated.

The Captain nodded and pressed the communicator in his ear.

"You are doing fantastic, but we need you to get on his ship." Sosa whispered.

Back in the bar Aleira heard the Captains message from the tiny device in her own ear. Pretending to fiddle with an earring she tapped twice to signal she had heard.

"Look. We really need to get out of Federation space. Things are dull here. I mean look at this place!"

Bique looked around. It was seriously dead. What he didn't know was the patrons and girls had been paid off to leave before he arrived. The Katsu Maru crew had been watching all the ships and had people ready to go in each bar they may need to take over. He was still considering the risks when he felt a stocking-clad foot snake up his inner thigh and bury itself in his crotch.

The Amarrian had bare legs he remembered so it must be the Gallente.

"Come on big boy. You're not going to leave us to take care of ourselves are you?" the Amarrain asked with pouty lips.

"What do you mean take....?" Bique started before his jaw dropped as the Amarrian took the Gallente womans head in her hands and kissed her deeply.

Bique craned his neck around the booth towards the bar.

"Check please!" he croaked in a strained voice.

-o0o-

"We're in!" Aki announced. His fingers danced over the keyboard.

"Find them!" Yoshi said quickly. She had been fretting over the two civilians since they had watched them vanish inside the Viator with Bique almost twenty minutes ago.

The screen flicked between security feeds. It settled on a large room. The two women were sat on the bed casually chatting. Bique appeared to be laying on the floor surrounded by the remnants of a shattered bottle.

"Comms back up!" Aki stated.

"Ladies. Looks like quite a party." Sosa spoke.

"Oh its been a bit of a flop. I take it we did good?" Aleira.

"Brilliant. You plugged it into the Captain's terminal. Couldn't have got me further along."

"What happened to the Captain?" Yoshi asked.

"He got a bit fruity. I don't know what sort of girls he thinks we are!" Gian laughed.

Aki worked quickly. By installing a hardware link directly into the ship he was able to circumnavigate most of the security.

"Is the bomb on one of the ships?" the Captain asked impatiently.

"Time Captain. They still have heavy security between the various ships. Its not on that one."

"One down, five to go." Riku.

"Nearly broken through to the next ship.... oh." Aki froze.

"Oh?" the Captain asked. Suddenly they saw the women spring up from the bed as alarms sounded.

"Shit! They've spotted the hack! I'm being locked out. They are going for emergency undocks!"

Yoshi rushed over to another station.

"Confirmed Captain. Docking control just broadcast unauthorised undocks in progress and all traffic to remain where they are."

The crew watched as each of the monitors went dead as they were locked out of the systems. The last monitor showed Bique's room. A group of uniformed men ran in and started struggling with Gian and Aleira before the connection was fully severed and the screen went black.

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

BB77 - I'm Not Dead, I'm Not Dead!

Blog Banter 77 - The Malaise

Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it's just another bout of summer "ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!"


BB77 - I'm Not Dead, I'm Not Dead!

One of the problems with being in charge of the Blog Banters these days is that my own view on the topic doesn't get posted immediately. I ensure the main blog banter posts stands on its own for a few days before I reply. That bloody Neville has stolen a lot of what I wanted to say, and it's not just me saying that! 


The other problem is that people tend to think the question asked in the blog banter comes from me personally. Some do, some don't. I'm tempted to put in future:-

The Blog Banter monthly question does not represent Drackarn's or any of his affiliates views and is solely for entertainment purposes.


When Angry Onions and Easy Esky (not me, these two!) suggested "The Malaise" / "Decline due to Colonists vs Immigrants" I added it to the list of possible topics I send around the "Itteh Bitteh Blog Banter Committeh". A couple of high-profile bloggers who I send a list of topics to and they reply what they think would make a good topic that month. For this month one said this would be a good topic and the other said "Don't ask me, I'm at this weird crossroads, not blogging and not sure if I'm coming back."

Therefore I took that as a sign we should run with this topic given those responses. Something around "Eve is dying" crops up in the suggested topic every couple of months. Its always there hanging about. Usually it's passed over, but this month it made it! OK onto MY actual response...


Yes, I am feeling the malaise. I don't think Eve is dying, but it's changing. Personally I'm just not into Eve currently. Haven't been this year. Fanfest was one of the reasons. Usually it reinvigorates me and I'm much more into Eve when returning from Iceland. This year I wasn't, in fact it was the opposite. As far as Eve development goes there is nothing really interesting for me (again this is a personal thing) on the horizon. Structures are nice to look at but don't feature in my play style. Events, PVE and the like, are the same. What really depressed me from Fanfest was the Low-Sec/PVP/Crimewatch roundtable. It was almost an exact repeat of 2015 only this time Fozzie wasn't saying they might have some dev time later in the year (which obviously never materialised), he just nodded and smiled. Anyway that's my "Malaise" with Eve. Crap timezone, empty low-sec and nothing to look forward to.

Lets just check Eve Updates to see what's coming for the rest of the year (ignoring the meet-ups of course):-

Industrial Arrays
Fleet Boosts Rework (AoE?)
Rorqual Re-balance
Mining Barge Overhaul
Drilling Platforms

Yeah.... Nothing for me to look forward to this year other than may be more even 1v1's in Tama as boosts are likely to go AoE.

We look further into the future and we hear about the "new space". I don't want new space! It's already too spread out as it is (in my TZ)!

A good example of how Eve is changing is when I logged on at the weekend and there in the UI is a section encouraging me to go out and mine 50,000 cubic metres of Veldspar. NOPE!

This rang a bell with Angry Onions' "Colonists vs Immigrants". Daily quests? Skill injectors? NPC's telling you to go mining? Instant gratification being the way to go is it? This combined with what I enjoy doing in game (low-sec PvP) has nothing planned so nothing to look forward to reminds me of a scene from The Holy Grail.


Yeah, Eve is not dying (we might be at 2006 peak user levels but that's still 30-40k), but from my own gameplay perspective its not healthy. TBH, just go read Neville's response.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Blog Banter 77 - The Malaise

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 77th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are please visit the Blog Banter page. This month's question is posed by Easy Esky and Angry Onions.


Blog Banter 77 - The Malaise

Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it's just another bout of summer "ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!"

Banter on.....

Contributors:-

YADOT A Capsuleers Adventure in Eve Online - BB77 – The Malaise
The Inner Sanctum of the Niveah - Back When I Was a Kid...
Target Caller - BB77: The Network News Effect in Eve
NevilleSmit.com - Blog Banter #77 - The EVE Crisis of Confidence
Warp Drive Active - Blog Banter #77 – The Dead Air
Space Cadet Online - BLOG BANTER 77 - GOT IT ALL WRONG DOCTOR
The Thoughts of Kong. - Blog Banter 77: If Eve was a Horse...
A Journey Through the Mind - BB 77. Stop the whining
A CARBON Based Life - BB77: Climate Change…
Shadows and Whispers - Blog Banter 77 - The Malaise
SCAS - BB77 - I'm Not Dead! I'm Not Dead!
The Ancient Gaming Noob - BB77 – Everything Has a Season
Morphisat's Blog - Blog Banter 77 – The Malaise
Bad Wrong Fun - BB77: To Die Is to Live

Sunday, July 17, 2016

And Now For Something....

.... completely different!

I'm not finding low-sec PVP any fun at the minute at all. Its dead and I've not been enjoying it for a while. Drackarn is cloaking up for the summer. He's going to ruin his current clone on a binge of vodka and high-class escorts!

I was going to give Eve a break too. However on one of the previous posts people made some suggestions and there is one thing I've not tried in Eve - wormholes. Here I introduce Cat. My Guardian/Archon/Revelation/Legion alt.


She's cropped up a few times in my fiction too!

A few issues to sort first. Primary one is she cannot fit T2 medium lasers! The Legion was a boosting ship and you only need Medium 4 to progress onto capital sized guns which she has at 5. Not much use in a Legion obviously.


Her core skills are good as are drones (as you'd expect from a carrier alt). So I can fix that with some skill injectors (has it really come to this?).

I also have my probing alt with perfect skills!

A Legion combat pilot with a prober to support her. Perfect. Now... what the smeg do I do next? Find a wormhole I guess? Actually some ship fits too. Combat Legion and a wormhole probing ship? I have no idea. To Google I guess!


P.S. Rixx don't kick me! ;)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 6

Fiction Friday. Escape pod here.


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 6

Captain Sosa sat at the head of the conference table. Last in were Riku and Dr Gian who had just arrived in the stolen shuttle.


"Doctor, thank you for joining us. I know you must be keen to rejoin your colleagues at Douvolle but we think there may be a bigger threat at large and you might be key to helping us identify it."

"Of course. Anything I can do to help." Gian replied.

"I've read all your reports. Excellent work everybody. Here is what we know. 12 years ago Thanan Fiert foiled a pirate attack on one of his mineral haulers, killing several of them in the process after they boarded. However it was found immediately after they were not pirates but Templis Dragonaurs. Apparently the local cell was low on cash and Thanan's transport looked an easy target. The cell leader's twin brother was killed in that attempt. Snatching Thanan's family they demanded a ransom they knew he couldn't pay. This was more about revenge and making him feel helpless than the money by the look of it. They sent him videos of them torturing his wife and finally killed her, and also his son and his daughter. Thanan drops out of the public eye and isn't seen again for over a decade. During that time he identifies an ancient story which leads him to an uncharted system where the sun went nova millennia ago. He puts his fortune into sending a expedition there. After only month in the shattered system, the ship's AI takes control and jumps the ship back to low-sec where it is intercepted by a carrier from Black Sun Security, who are the security providers to Thanan Industries. They take Dr Gian separately, remove the other scientists to a location unknown and kill everyone else. They then leave the ship in an asteroid belt knowing the local pirates would take care of the evidence. Why? What's the end game? Suggestions?"

The officers around the table paused in thought.

"There has to be something in that system. Whatever it was, they found it and the ships AI brought it back. Jove Tech? Something older? A weapon may be? I'd say he's looking for revenge but against who? They never found those responsible." Yoshi suggested.

"I'd say against most of us here. Its clear to me Thanan has a hatred of Caldari. He beat that woman at his hotel and you should have seen him look at me when I bid against him at the auction. Templis are an illegal Caldari paramilitary group fighting the Gallente. May be he thinks all Caldari are to blame. Tacit approval and all that."

"It might be just coincidence," Dr Gian started "But I had just found a sample of an unknown mineral. At first I thought it was just isogen, it was a similar looking blue crystalline mineral, but the scans couldn't identify it. I had just logged the find into the system when when the AI jumped us back."

"OK. Unless we have any better suggestions we'll assume that was what they are looking for. Doctor, if I could ask you to work with Aki here to try and find anything you can on what that crystal you found might be. I know it's going to be difficult without a sample but anything you can uncover may be useful. The rest of us will concentrate on finding Thanan. Hopefully he's got his precious book with him still. It should be very easy if he has."

-o0o-

Detective Aleira came around slowly. Her shoulder throbed. She looked down and saw that she was tied to a chair, still in the lab where the Professor had shot her. She saw the scorched material of her white blouse. A stun blast. The man sat on a bench, still pointing the gun at her silently. The door to the lab opened and a smartly dressed Gallente man entered.

"Detective Aleira . You are a long way from the Throne worlds!"

"And you are?" she asked.

"Oh that doesn't matter." he said approaching one of the many large lasers that littered the room on tripods and stands. "I'm not important. However, what your colleagues back in the Empire know about my little enterprise is. I don't suppose you'd tell me everything without things having to get awkward would you?"

Aleira stayed silent. Her colleagues knew very little. She'd explained she was going to this university in the Federation to make some enquiries. It might be a coincidence that they tried to buy six molecular lasers and were refused a few months before the sickening attacks in Amarr space which saw the exact same number stolen. Or it might not be. She was sure now it was no coincidence but her fellow offices light years away didn't know that. If she revealed this information they'd just kill her. They couldn't let her go and no point holding her given her fellow officers knew practically nothing. Easiest for them to set that blaster to kill and finish her if she revealed the extent of the investigation.

"Not talkative? That's a shame as I really need to know how much time I have."

The Gallente man flicked some switches and the laser hummed ominously. The barrel was about 2 metres long and a red tube spiralling around it started to glow as it raised up slowly.

"As you can see we tried to make our own molecular lasers. However we couldn't get the focus accurate enough. I have to hand it to you Amarrians, nobody makes laser crystals anywhere near as good as you." he said as he approached her.

"I'll pass your praise onto our engineers." she said sarcastically getting nervous.

He smiled as he crouched in front of her. Slowly and methodically he unbuttoned her blouse. With her arms tied to the chair she struggled but it was impossible to stop him. He pulled the blouse down as far as it would go to her tied elbows and stepped back to the laser. He took a small pad from the side of the machine and started to tap commands into it. The barrel of the laser tilted up and then swung to face her. Aleira's breathing increased.

"That stun-shot you took to your right shoulder might leave a scar. Do you want to tell me what your friends back in the Empire know or shall I even you up a bit."

Aleira shook her head, fear etched on her face.

"Well we'll start low power, wide spread and go from there shall we? So, for the first time, what do your fellow officers know?"

He waited a few seconds and then pressed a button. A red beam sprung from the lasers barrel and projected a red disc on her left shoulder about an inch wide. Flesh sizzled and steam rose as she screamed through gritted teeth.

-o0o-

"Captain, it's bad news. Very bad news." Aki said as they assembled around the table. "There is a theoretical mineral with a scientific name so long it'd take me a week to pronounce it. The short version is Blue Nova Crystal."

"Blue Nova Crystal? Never heard of it." the Captain replied.

"Its existence was only a theory." Dr Gian took the lead "As nobody has visited a system destroyed by a blue star going super nova it had never been proved. Some scientist proposed the formation of the mineral in such an event and there has been debate on it since in some areas of astrogeology. Its similar to isogen but the forces and temperature of a blue star super nova radically alter it."

"We talking isogen-5 dangerous?" Yoshi asked. Isogen-5 was a rare isotope of the common mineral widely blamed for the Seyllin Incident incident and the formation of the unstable wormholes.

"Yes and no. It is theorised to be much more stable than isogen-5. You could surrounding it in high explosives, detonate it and you'd just shatter the crystal. Nothing more. However if you could introduce controlled fusion then a first sized chunk could power the planet of Gallente Prime for a decade."

"So this could be the answer to energy crisis on certain worlds?" the Captain asked.

"No sir." Aki took up again. "The doctor said if we 'could'. There would be no way to stop the chain-reaction once started. Unlike normal fissionable material, this cannot be slowed or stopped once started. It would cascade and go critical within an hour if the calculations are correct. Thankfully it is believed that fission could only be achieved by a number of molecular lasers all targeting the same molecule from different angles. Those lasers are rare and you'd need half a dozen at least."

"Right, get chasing up on who has six molecular lasers, those things are rare. What sort of bang are we talking?"

"A fist sized chunk would vaporise an Upwell Keepstar if detonated in space." Aki replied.

There were murmurs around the table. An Upwell Keepstar was over 150km in size and even a titan's doomsday weapon would not put a huge dent in its protection.

"And planet side?"

Aki and Dr Gian exchanged worried glances.

"This is where different scientists have very different views Captain." the Doctor explained "Best case is a 50km superheated fireball vapourising everything in its radius. The death and destruction to two hundred kilometres would be immense."

"So any capital city could be lost with upwards of a hundred million people. Dare I ask about worst case?"

"There are some who believe if the fusion is started in a particular way, the initial fireball would be smaller, some propose only 10km, however the heat would be a magnitude higher. So hot in fact that it has been theorised that it could jumpstart start fusion in oxygen and hydrogen atoms causing a chain reaction. A planet with a temperate atmosphere, 20 percent O2 and large bodies of water could be engulfed."

The Captain looked on in horror.

"You are saying that a fist sized chunk of this crystal could destroy a planet?"

"Not destroy technically sir. It would ignite the atmosphere and water. Breaking the molecular bonds turning H2O into its component parts and feeding the fire. One scientist calculated a normal temperate planet would be turned into something resembling a cold red dwarf star for six hours before becoming a barren planet."

"Targets?" Sosa asked.

"I have three Captain if we think Thanan is looking for revenge against the Caldari State as a whole for the actions of the Dragonaurs." Riku said. "3rd place is Jita 4-4. Wiping that station would cripple the Caldari economy. 2nd Caldari Prime but that would kill millions of Gallente too and we don't know what effect the destruction of Caldari Prime would have on Gallente Prime in the same system. So that leaves us with a more likely target."

"New Caldari Prime. The city of New Tovil and over a hundred million residents or worse case, the entire planet and billions of Caldari." the Captain finished for him.

-o0o-

"Really, it would be so much better if you could tell me what I need to know." Thanan sighed.

Detective Aleira was still tied to the chair breathing rapidly. Sweat dripped from her body and half a dozen circular wounds dotted both shoulders and top of her chest. She did not answer. Thanan approached a desk and picked up a pair of scissors. Slowly he approached her.

"If the last ten minutes hasn't persuaded you, may be we need to up our game here. I'm sure you know that the areas of the body that can give the most pleasure can also give the most pain." he spoke softly as he lifted the bra strap on her left shoulder and snipped through it. "I'd think long and hard about why you are refusing to converse with me, as things are about to get very unpleasant." He cut the strap on her right shoulder. The bra sagged as he placed the jaws of the scissors around the material holding the cups together. The sound of a vibration cut through the only other sound which was Aleira's rapid breathing.

Thanan withdrew the scissors and reached for his datapad. His expression changed.

"Deuverin I have to go. Finish her now and leave quickly. The net is closing and we need to move forward."

With that Thanan quickly span around and walked from the room leaving Deuverin speechless for a few seconds. Once he recovered he slid from the bench and approached Aleira, raising the gun to point at her face. She looked up and stared down the barrel of the blaster. She saw something in his eyes. He ran the tip of his tongue across his top lip. She then saw he wasn't looking at her face. He slipped the gun into the back of his pants and picked up the scissors Thanan had been using a minute before. Aleira appraised the man. He was overweight and didn't appear to have much muscle but she was petite against him, he'd be almost impossible to overpower. He cut the ties that secured her legs to the chair. She decided to play the helpless female and then try to surprise him. He was about to cut the ties around her wrists when he paused. Smiling he stepped back and pulled the gun. Adjusting the settings he aimed it at her.

"Ready for some fun?" he sneered and fired.

Aleira convulsed as the white bolt hit her. Electricity assaulted her body and crippling her nervous system.

"I'd say you'll be fine in ten minutes, but by the time that taser wears off, you'll have a hole in the head to worry about. Now, talking of holes..." he laughed as he cut the ties around her wrists and threw her to the floor. She flopped heavily to the ground, paralyzed from the taser shot.

She couldn't move and just lay there staring up at the man as he loosened his belt. Her head swam and the room started to spin. Before she blacked out she had a strange thought.

"That sounded like a Sisters of Eve spoke-bomb going off!"

-o0o-


The two police officers entered the management office of the small start port near Tovil city.

"Good afternoon Arikari." the taller of the two announced as they neared the reception desk.

The woman smiled and leant forward. Arikari dropped his eyes to her chest before looking back up at the smiling woman.

"Your boss in?" he asked.

"Sure go on it." she replies.

As the two officers walked towards the side door the receptionist pressed a small button on the underside of her desk.

The two police didn't bother to knock and just entered the small office. Waskisen was sat behind a desk littered with paper. It appeared to have no discernible filing system.

"Ever thought about tidying this shit hole up?" the shorter cop sneered.

Waskisen smiled and leant back in his chair.

"If I tidied up, I'd never find anything! What brings New Caldari's finest to my humble office?"

Natakko sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the desk as his partner wandered the office looking down at the various pieces of paper that littered all the surfaces.

"Rumor is you're expecting a shipment. Rumor is Guristas have hijacked a Serp narc shipment as they are distracted with the capsuleer campaign against them. Rumor is, they are going to land the shipment at your port."

"So that's what the rumors say is it?" Waskisen said casually as if he didn't care.

"Yeah. Apparently is a cool ten million Caldari Credits."

"I do wonder where some people come up with these wild fantasies. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Okaseilen Fukashi over at port 14. He's always trying to spread false rumors about me as he cannot compete commercially against me."

Natakko laughed. He well knew the owner of Port 14 the other side of the city had bad blood with Waskisen. However he knew they were as bad as each other. More criminal activity flowed through their two star ports than all the others combines including the space-elevator.

"Look officers, I run a legitimate business here, continually dogged by lies spread by my competitors. Have a look at this file." he slid a closed file over to Natakko "This is what we handle. No guns, no drugs, no slaves, just commodities."

The officer opened the file. It was for a drop ship docked. Its bill of export showed it was transporting cattle to the colonies in the system of Tama. He flicked through the various permits and certificates until he came to a stack of cred-notes. 5000 credit bills, twenty of them in two clips. He discretely pocket the cash and passed the file back.

"Well everything is in order and I'm sure Kunken here will agree. We'll see you again in a couple of days." he said standing.

"Make it four and I'm sure you'll be glad you did." Waskisen replied.

"Four then. We'd better be satisfied with your reports!"

The two cops left and Waskisen smiled, leaning back in his old tattered chair. He was tempted to leave a hidden camera here just to see their faces when they came back in four days expecting a massive bribe. However they'd be disappointed. The rumors about the Guristas shipment were true. They'd be arriving in 48 hours. He'd pocket a cool million and with the rest of his savings that was all he needed. He and his girl would be light-years away starting their new life when those two dumb cops returned.

-o0o-

Aleira woke and instantly knew she was on a starship. Years of living in space had attuned her senses to the subtle noises, vibrations and the feel of artificial gravity. A woman in a doctor's coat appeared over her.

"How you feeling?"

"Like I've drunk the entire annual wine output from the Nidhan monastery and then got into a fight with a dozen Matari cage fighters." Aleira groaned. "What happened? Where am I?"

"You are on a Legion ship. Your investigation apparently crossed with our own. Luckily for you we arrived just in time."

"That professor....?"

"Ah yes. Ingvar over there caught him with his pants down. Literally." the doctor replied nodding across the room. Aleira propped herself up and saw a hulking Matari Brutor with a bandage around his right arm.

"What happened to you? she asked.

"Whilst he had his pants down he still had a gun. After we breached the lab with the spoke-bomb he was able to get one shot off."

"What happened to that man?"

"I still had my left arm and he ain't no man with what he was about to do."

Aleira glanced down. Whilst her shoulders and top of chest hurt and were visibly red, there was no sign of the burns Thanan had inflicted with the laser.

"We have a top of the line dermal regenerator. It'll be sore for a few days but it'll pass and I can give you something for the pain. The Captain would like to speak to you if you are up to it."

Aleira nodded and the doctor tapped something on a datapad. A few minutes later Captain Sosa entered.

"Are you OK?" he asked as he approached. They exchanged introductions and Aleira thanked him for rescuing her.

"What led you there?" she asked.

"We are both working on the same case but from different angles. We are chasing a man who killed the majority of the crew of a research ship. Hundreds of people. We believe he is intending to launch a devastating attack against the Caldari. To complete the weapon he needs molecular lasers."

Aleira nodded.

"We had a firm suspect and tracked him to the university. Hacking their systems and through scans we identified you and could see something was up so I sent a team in. I'm afraid the main suspect escaped."

"So what the frack are we doing sat here just talking about it?" she said with a smile.

To be continued....

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Call for Blog Banter Topics

Have you got a topic you'd like the Eve Online bloggers to discuss? I asked on Twitter yesterday and got a few potential topics:-





Have you got a better one? The itteh bitteh blog banter committeh (well me and two other guys I email asking what they think of 3 or 4 potential topics each month) are leaning to "ZOMG EVE IZ DYING" given the loss of pre-Incarna vets and the newer players who, as suggested by others, are not as invested in Eve. Immigrants vs. colonists?

Given my current state of mind probably best I'm not let loose on that topic! Any of the Tweets above make you think "That would be interesting" or have you your own burning topic?

I need to have a topic sent out Friday to the Banterers so please let me have them... providing you're not all out chasing Pokemon!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Mojo is Empty

Really running on empty with my Eve mojo lately. Looks like I'm not the only one. Take a glance at the blog list to the right, a lot have gone quiet. I'm logged on now and flying around in a Tristan but it's just not fun.


Empty systems, nothing new, just the vastness of space. Obviously some new carebear stuff with these Serpentis sites everywhere... but nothing grabbing me. Most systems are empty. Seeing a couple of people about but not many.

Daredevil.
Prophesy.
Neither really a good fight against my Tristan.
Oooooo! A Slasher in one of those Serpentis thingies!

Cover me I'm going in..... huh? A Citadel, lots of rats, no Slasher! FFS


Onwards and upwards!

Ishtar and a Proteus.
Republic Fleet Firetail? Probably not a good one in this fit.

Think I'll swap ships. 15 jumps and only one T1 frigate spotted.

"The socket was closed"

Log back in and a Rifter on scan! Actually lots of combat scanner probes out, Vagabonds and boosting ships. Rifters gone! Oh well lets "trust in the rust" and see what there is.


Not looking to 1v2 a pair of boosted Vaga's so I move on. Lets try a high-sec border system.

Empty.

Bollocks to it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Trust

Eve Online gives you trust issues. In a game where the developers actually state "scamming, confidence tricks and theft are permitted in EVE Online" along with the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory, it's a harsh place.


I was trying to think who do I really trust in Eve? I can probably count them on one had. Through various charities and  fundraisers I've donated stuff, ISK and real life money to Lexx, Rixx and Sindel. So I guess I trust those. But really struggling to think of anyone else I trust in-game.


Looks like I have good reason to. Firstly I'd been betrayed before by a "friend". Secondly CCP have two posts regarding scams this month. Firstly aimed at players using "charity" scams here and also interestingly at 3rd party developers here.

The single sign in thing has always got me jittery. I vastly dislike typing my account name and password into anything but the launcher and the account management page. That's how I access any 3rd party site, log onto CCP first then go to the 3rd party.

I wonder if there has been a naughty developer?


Friday, July 1, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 5

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 5

Detective Aleira looked at the university's main building. It was not what she expected. She was expecting an impressive structure, well maintained and oozing accademia. This place had certainly seen better days. In fact it looked practically run down. How it attracted any students she did not know. She walked into the foyer and approached the desk.

"I need to speak with the head of the physics faculty." she told the receptionist flashing her badge. She hoped the woman didn't look too hard, her Amarrian credentials meant nothing here in the Federation. She had travelled by shuttle to Luminaire after reviewing the orders for molecular lasers over the last year. This small Gallente University had placed an unusually large order several months ago. Given the raids to steal the lasers back in Amarr space were so professional, they had few leads. It might be a coincidence that this university wanted to purchase the exact same number as was stolen, or they may have decided to find a less legal way to acquire what they wanted.

The receptionist told her to take a seat on one of the worn chairs. As she sat Aleira wondered how such a run-down establishment could afford to order a single molecular laser never mind six. After a few minutes a man approached. She stood to greet him.

"Detective. I'm Professor Deuverin of the Esalion University. How may I be of assistance?" he gestured for her to walk towards the door he'd come from.

"I've never heard of the Esalion University before Professor." she said following him.

"Ah yes, we're a small entity compared to the likes of the bigger institutions. However we are very specialist and have some great minds here."

"But not maintenance staff?" she stated looking at the missing tiles in the false ceiling exposing wires and conduits.

"We funnel our funding into our research and education. Building maintenance if far down the list."

They entered a secure laboratory that the Professor unlocked with a code on a side panel and a retina scan. Inside was an array of what appeared to be lasers. Aleira noted they looked similar to the ones stolen but these appeared to be copies.

"Three months ago you placed an order for six molecular lasers from Carthum Conglomerate. Can I ask why?"

"Of course. We are doing research here that requires that equipment to perform. However as I am sure you are aware Carthum Conglomerate declined our order stating security issues." the Professor explained.

"But why six? These are very dangerous pieces of equipment and even the top institutes only have one or two. Why would you need six?"

At that point there was a beep and the Professor pulled his datapad from his pocket. He read the message and slipped the pad away.

"I'll show you." he said walking to a desk. He opened a draw and turned around, suddenly produced a gun.

"You should have stayed in Amarr." he sneered and fired. Aleira's world went black.

-o0o-


Sosa crawled through the ventilation duct slowly. Whilst Aki had hacked into the hotels systems and disabled the security sensors, the guards below would still hear any loud noises. At the next grill Sosa looked down. The auction items were still in their cases. Three rent-a-cops were sat at a table playing cards. He checked his watch, 30 seconds.

He heard the door buzzer go and watched one of the guards stand. Each had a stun baton and a pistol. Probably a Duvolle Labs blaster. He thought of the irony that if this went wrong they'd be fired at by their own clients weapons. From his position he could barely see the door as it opened. A room service trolley came into view pushed by a woman in a hotel maids outfit. The other two guards stood smiling.

The trolley was pushed to the table and the maid removed the silver covers from the plates. Steaks, burgers and fries along with cans of Quaffe.

"Thanks darling!" one of the guards said.

"Oh don't thank me yet." she purred bending down. Sosa watched the men as they took the opportunity to stare at her ass.

She pulled three bottles of beers from the bottom shelf hidden by the trolleys white cloth.

"I assumed you guys wouldn't say no to a drink. I shouldn't have but looks like you've got a long boring night."

The guys enthusiastically thanked her and begged her to stay and eat something. She politely refused and left leaving the three very happy security guards to their meal. Sosa watched as his second in command glanced up at the ventilation grill and gave a discreet smile. He had less than five minutes to wait until all three were on the floor snoring. He quickly unscrewed the vent and dropped the rope to the floor securing the top end with a powerful magnet.

"OK I'm down Aki. You're up!"

The lights on the locks on the display cabinets went from red to green.

"That's the easiest part Capt" Aki said over the comms.

Sosa went to the cabinet containing the book. Carefully, using gloved hands he removed it from the case and opened it. Taking an smaller imager he scanned each page and slid a tiny disk into the spine. After replacing the book he secured the display case and climbed back up to the access panel.

When the three private security guys woke an hour later they knew they had been drugged but after confirming nothing was taken they vowed not to tell anyone for fear of losing their jobs. Their superior did review the security camera footage as he always did to check they weren't neglecting their duties. However all he saw was a carefully stitched together video showing nothing wrong, courtesy of the Katsu Maru's resident computer genius.

-o0o-


"Agent Rouppon?" the man asked.

Ingvar stood and extended his hand. "Yes, you must be Detective Thassian?"

The man was much older than Ingvar and he assumed must be close to retirement. He was Gallente and had a haggard look about him. He gestured to a side door of the precinct's reception. Entering, Ingvar could see it was a interview room.

"So what can I do for the Federal Intelligence Service?" Thassian asked as they sat.

"Its a delicate matter and I'm afraid there are only some parts I can talk about. We are dealing with a grave threat to the Federation and we believe there are links to a previous old case of yours."

"Anything I can do to help." the Detective replied.

"Well I've read the files obviously but I'd just like you to run through the case from start to finish. Pretend you're speaking to someone who hasn't read the file. I like to hear the investigating officers story from the heart, not from a case file where every word will be scrutinised and admissible as evidence."

The Detective laughed.

"Yeah I know what you mean. The amount of time we spend thinking 'should I write that down' and cannot put any of our instincts or gut feeling into the file. Evidence only. What is the case?"

"Thanan Fiert"

The Detective's face dropped immediately and his skin turned ashen.

"Shit. Of all the cases you are going to make me drag that one up."

"I'm sorry. I've read the file so know this must be difficult but we really need your help here." Ingvar lied. The man's reaction was enough to tell him it was a particularly nasty case.

"OK, but not here." he said rising grabbing his jacket from the back of the seat where he'd placed it.

"Where are we going?" Ingvar asked confused.

"If you are making me drag that shit up, then you're buying. I trust your bloated Federal expenses account can stretch to a few whiskys.

-o0o-

Riku creeped through the corridor. The carrier was running on a skeleton crew now that it was back docked in station. However, alone, without any comms or assistance he had to be careful. He had no idea where anyone was on the ship and could easily bump into someone. His first priority was to get to the main computer core. It was not difficult to find. Security was minimal. Why wouldn't it be he thought. They were docked in their own hanger. Riku worked his way through the vast databanks until he got to the terminal. Retrieving a small black box from his belt pouch he plugged it into a port on the terminal. A green light showed it was active. Back on the Katsu Maru, Aki would be receving a signal that piggybacked on the carrier's own link to the GalNet. Riku was confident that he'd know what to do when he saw it.

Next Riku worked his way down to the security deck. Along the way he had to dodge a few groups of Black Sun crew. All appeared to be relaxed so it was likely the link had not been discovered. As he neared the brig area he started to encounter security. There were active armed patrols in this part of the ship which led him to believe his hunch was correct. Hiding in side rooms and around corners he was able to slowly make his way to the main brig area.

The cell block itself was a wide circular room. The control centre was in the centre and along the outside wall were the cells. One of them had the force shield up meaning it was occupied. However from his vantage point Riku couldn't see who was in there. The guard at the control centre was facing the entry corridor where Riku was hiding behind the corner. There was no way to get close without being seen. The other problem was he was also running on hunches. At this point they had no proof that this ship was involved in the abduction of the scientists and murder of the Nestor crew. They could have been called in at the last minute to take out the Nestor after the Katsu Maru had scared off the Guristas pirates. For now Riku wanted to keep his gun holstered. He chanced another look at the brig. The guard was turned around, looking at something. Riku could see a light flashing from somewhere in the brig. It wasn't an alarm, it was a white light flickering. The guard stood and walked towards the light, vanishing from view. Riku took the chance and quietly jogged down the corridor. He peaked around the edge into the brig. The guard could not be seen and the flickering light appeared to be coming from another locked cell. He looked again. Yes, two of the cells were occupied, the one with the flickering light was on the nearside so had been hidden from his view, but no sign of the guard. Then he spotted him. He appeared inside the other locked cell and looked furious. Riku entered the brig and the guard yelled. However behind the forcefield there was no sound. Riku went over to the other cell. Laying on the bed was a Gallente woman in a white lab coat. He deactivated the forcefield and she looked up.

"Let me guess. You're the masseuse." she said dryly.

"Close, I'm working for Duvolle Labs. Apparently they'd like you back!"

The woman sat up quickly.

"What took you so long?" she replied.

-o0o-

"OK Riku has got the doctor." Aki said.

"Nice job with the guard by the way." the Captain stated over his shoulder. "He's going have a bit of explaining how he came to be locked in one of his own cells."

"A real trick of the light." Aki laughed "I've given Riku a escape route and the internal security on the carrier is in diagnostic mode so he'll be fine. I suppose you'd like to know what was in our ancient Caldari book?"

"Is the translation finished?"

"Yes sir, best the computer could do. That language hasn't been spoken in a millennia. I've been searching for certain keywords. I'm assuming Thanan is not interested in tactics for longsword fighting or tips on wooden bow construction so I was looking for something connect with his fields. Meteor or asteroid strikes, comets, things like that. Anything referring to space, stars, sun, sky and the like."

"Find anything?"

"Only one thing. About ninety days into the campaign it states a "the eye of heaven" appeared and shone down on them. There are a few references to a blue eye dominating the night sky and even visible during the day. It was larger than the closest moon apparently."

"Another Caroline's star? Birth of the Caldari Nebula?" Yoshi reeled of some ideas.

"At a guess I'd say super nova sir. Whatever Caroline's star was is linked to the Jove. I think this was a blue star going super nova. It makes other references but I did some further digging and found this."

The Captain looked at the screen.

"Folk Songs of Gallente Prime in the Merovingian Period. Sounds a riveting read!" the Captain said.

"Its not." Aki replied dryly "However I was searching for historical documents during the same time period and got a match. This was a paper from Calle University on ancient folk songs and there is one that mentions King Merovingian and a blue light in the sky that outshone the stars and the moon. King Merovingian reign was around the time of our Caldari book although we cannot be exact. I then checked references against star constellations both mentioned. I am pretty sure they are referring to the same phenomenon and was able to get a rough direction."

"Let me guess, its in the same direction as the Nestor jumped back from?"

Aki smiled and nodded.

"So we think there was a blue star that went nova five millenia ago. Thanan for reasons unknown needed something from whats left of that system and is happy to murder hundreds for it. He'll even spend half a million just to hide a reference to that former system in an ancient book. Why?"

Yoshi and Aki shrugged.

-o0o-

The bar was exactly how Ingvar expected. This close to the police HQ its clientele was mostly law enforcement. They got their drinks at the bar, a triple whisky for Thassian and Ingvar took a light beer, before retreating to a secluded booth.

"So, the Thanan case. Shit cannot believe you are making me go through this. Going to make my therapist happy!" Thassian said taking a gulp of the amber liquid. "As you know its over a decade ago. Back then Thanan Industries was a tiny enterprise, nothing compared to the huge corp it is today. They only had a few small mining ships, a hauler and a prober. Norms captaining their ships, no eggers. Anyway they got lucky, a big rogue roid was found floating in the black chock full of Zygreen. Thanan wanted to ensure everything went well so was on the hauler himself transferring the minerals. They got hit by pirates, nothing new there. However these pies didn't try the usual explode the target and sift through the wreckage, they actually boarded the ship. Thanan was at the helm and he wasn't going to let the cargo that could make his company be stolen. He overrode the safety protocols and opened both doors of an external lock. Obviously as soon as the second was open a few mill the force of the escaping atmosphere blew the entire lock out. Ripped a chunk out of the ships side. The ship made it to station, just. We found three bodies inside one of the corridors. The intruders had been wearing zero-G gear and some had managed to lasso their harnesses onto something as the ship decompressed. Didn't save 'em of course. Thanan didn't care, he'd got his prize."

Ingvar took a swig from the bottle and nodded.

"He was giving statements to me when the call came in from the morgue. They had expected to find Serpentis ID on them. No ID at all, but when they stripped the bodies they found the tattoos. I mean, for fracks sake, who have suspected those guys would have tried to rip off a mineral hauler?"

Ingvar could only nod as if he knew.

"Anyway, as soon as we knew it was them we arranged extra security for Thanan and his family. However we were too slow. By the time we got there his wife and two kids were gone. We set up a field office in his place and waited. Finally they called. I nearly crapped myself. There on the vidscreen was one of the dead men that was supposed to be on the slab at the morgue. Took me a while to figure out it wasn't really the dead man, it was his twin brother! Fracking twins working for the Templis Dragonaurs! Anyway they wanted a cool billion. No way Thanan had anywhere near that at the time, even if he sold every asset. They must have known that. I guess that was the point. They gave him 24 hours. After that they called back. He begged and pleaded with them. Offered everything he had. That man wasn't interested. Twelve hours later a video file was received. Shit man, they had his wife tied to a wall and all these tools laid out. Then they went to work on her. It went on like that for nearly a week. A dozen files sent in all. Shit man, how the hell a person can do that to another. Those Templis are sick in the head. Thanan watched them all you know. Every vid, from start to finish. He watch every second of what they did to his wife. I still wake up in the night and can hear her screams. Anyway. there was no 13th video. We found the wife and two kids dumped in an abandoned factory unit a few days later. All three killed with a bullet to the head. The only saving grace that they didn't work on the two kids like they had with the mother. We were never were able to track them down. Never could bring them to justice. I lost my own wife and kids in the months after it. PTSD or some shit the quacks tell me. So Agent, anything else you need to know about the case that ruined my life?"

-o0o-

The alarm blared loudly as Riku led Dr Gian down the corridor.

"They know we've escaped!" she shouted over the din.

"No that's not the escape alarm. Its another."

"What is it?"

"Radiation leak!"

The doctor stopped with a look of horror on her face.

"Relax! A friend is playing with the ships computer systems, he will have hacked the AI and set off the alarm to clear a route for us. There is no leak." Riku stated grabbing her hand and leading her down the corridor through a set of blast doors.

The hanger bay was empty. The alarm had seen to that. None of these mercs were paid enough to risk a slow agonising death through radiation poisoning. They had abandoned the ship immediately and were awaiting the drones to find out what the problem was. Riku led the doctor over to a shuttle. Its engines were already on and the access ramp down.

"Good old Aki!" Riku said with a smile.

They boarded the shuttle and left the carrier within thirty seconds. As soon as they were clear of the station Riku fired up the comms.


"Riku! You have our wayward doctor?" Captain Sosa asked.

"Yes sir. You want to to take a directly to the Douvolle station in Fricoure?"

"Thats a negative. Meet us in Luminaire. Thanan is planning something. Ingvar is heading back now with new intel. The Doctor might be able to shed some light on what's going on."

Riku acknowledged the orders and plotted a course for Gallente space.

-o0o-

Thanan watched as the technicians worked. The six molecular lasers were mounted on the support beams in the middle of the cargo bay. Heavy duty energy conduits snaked around the bay connecting to various terminals and power relays.

"How much longer?" he asked the man stood next to him.

"To fix the equipment, another day. The main task is the calibration. That could take 48 hours. The lasers must be perfectly aligned for it to work. That is a slow, painstaking task."

"So we can deploy in 72 hours?"

"Yes sir. You have waited 12 years, I hope three more days isn't too much to ask. You have the book, the chances of anyone realising what you have, and what you will achieve, are slim to none."

Thanan nodded.

"The only loose ends are those people working for Duvolle Labs. However they have gone quiet, lets hope they stay that way. And of course our inquisitive Detective from the Throne Worlds."

"What should we do with her?"

"I'm heading to the university to question her personally. I doubt they will be able to do anything in the time left. Best to know what they know about us though. Carry on here. I'll be back later."

With that Thanan left, happy that in three days an entire race would feel the same loss and horror as he had done for the last decade.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

PvP? Nope! Pint? Yes!

So I thought I'd go for a bit of a solo roam and blog about the fun PvP. After quarter of an hour flying around and finding no fights I headed to Tama. 10 jumps so was hopeful of some action. Halfway there I found a Firetail inside a FW plex however my Tristan is no match warping into that. Other than that its so empty. There are not even many plex popped in the systems I'm passing through. I get as far as Nennamaila when the wife gets home from work, sticks her head into the man cave and asks...

"Want to go down the pub?"

Here you lot, have a video of a maniac in a Nago Naglfar with high-angle weapons. I'm off for a pint!


Monday, June 27, 2016

The June Update

Sorry for being quiet recently! Been back to the UK for a conference. Back in the sandpit now so normal service will resume if I can find the motivation to log on...

Actually we've got a big update coming this week. Lets jump onto SiSi and see if there is anything there that tickles my fancy! This is not an exhaustive list, just what catches my eye as I skim through the patch notes.

New Docking Animations.
Now as a sci-fi geek I like these. I fully expect if I looked on the forums there are ZOMGWTFCCP???? posts for people who hate them. My only niggle is the animation when swapping to your pod. Shouldn't that come from the pod gantry in the CQ CCP? Mmmmmm?


New Lighting Effects.
Now these are pretty cool too. Your hanger is a lot more atmospheric and the booster/engine lighting from your ship is a lot more realistic... not that you spend much time zoomed into your engines. The picture below shows the light on the underside of the hull from the bottom boosters.


New Rat Capitals.
Serpentis super carrier, dreadnought and titan will be coming. I expect they'll mostly be popping up in null mostly. Will have to wait and see how the ratters enjoy these babies!

Multi-Fit!
Oh yesh yesh yesh! The ability to fit up a number of ships the way you want. Can fit fleets of Thrashers in a couple of clicks!


Boosters Legal in Hi-Sec
Boosters have been illegal in high-sec and caused some interesting incidents such as the time a friend accidently jumped his Rhea full of boosters into hi-sec, then misclicked on the customs threat to hand over the drugs or be destroyed. Whoopsie! Might push the price down a bit?

Balancing and Improvements
Lot of capital balancing from fighters to modules. Some improvements to citadels such as direct trade and redeeming. Oh yes, and you can reprocess titans in Citadels now! That would be an awesome misclick :) CCP, can you put the 'reprocess' option next to 'repair' in the right-click menu!

Opportunities and Events
As well as the Shadow of the Serpentis creating new combat sites and roaming pie gangs there are the new Scope opportunities which give the bears something to do!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 4

Friday Fiction. Escape pod... isn't here! You're doomed! (I'm flying back to the UK for a few days when this posts. Pick something from the column on the right if fiction is not your thing!


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 4

The bridge crew watched the approaching fighting wing nervously on the tactical view. The ship was nearly aligned to warp out but the support fighters were gaining fast. Captain Sosa counted down in his head. The Katsu Maru was like no other ship in the cluster. Originally a Mammoth hauler she had been completely gutted and refitted in secret at the Legion's shipyards. Externally she looked like a tramp industrial nearing the end of her service life. The paint was peeling revealing huge patches of rust. Emergency hull repair plates were welded haphazardly all around the hull. Most of the anetai and sensor arrays had broken off leaving wires trailing. Inside the decks were not much better. Dingy corridors with flickering lights. Cable runs held up by duct tape creating bypass were systems had failed. Odd odours and smells. It was not a pleasant environment. However in one of the toilets there was a hidden door that led to the real decks. These were as plush as any luxury yacht. The command centre was better equipped than any capsuleer ship. The crew quarters matched the best five-star hotels and the facilities would not be out of place on one of the Empire's flag ships. The powerplant, shields, engines and weapons systems were all battlecruiser rated. Hidden behind the fake hull repair plates were numerous weapon systems that could see the Katsu Maru go head to head with a battleship. The ship was a deadly boat disguised as a hauler. However it was no match for three wings of fighters.

An alarm sounded informing them they hadn't been fast enough.

"We're pointed by the fighters, warp drive is offline!" Yoshi called out.

Captain Sosa paused, there was no way they could defended against three fighter wings. He need a miracle and needed it now.

"Time to intercept for the attack fighters?" he asked.

"Sir, they are engaging the Nestor, only the support fighters are on us."

The Captain frowned. Why would the carrier Captain send his attack fighters against a disabled battleship that posed no threat? If the roles were reversed, he would have sent everything against the Katsu Maru and dealt with that before even considering the defenseless Nestor. He could only imagine that the Captain was under strict orders to destroy the Nestor as a priority. He sent the support fighters to hold the Katsu Maru from escaping and would deal with the 'hapless' industrial after the primary objective was complete, destroy the evidence that the Guristas pirates had failed to do. Why not do this in the first place he thought? Deniability. A ship destroyed by pirates was a daily occurrence. This carrier could be traced and was only here due to their earlier intervention. That was something he had to think about for the future. Right now he had to figure out how to give them a future. The support fighters were firing but the incoming damage was light. The Katsu Maru's shields were more than enough to keep the support fighters from being a real threat. The attack fighters would be a different story.

"Aki? What's the weather looking like out there?"

"Captain? The... weather? In space?" the tech specialist ask confused.

"Yes. Any chance of hail?"

Realisation dawned across his face.

"Absolutely Captain! Bringing the Hail Storm online!"

"The what?" Riku asked.

"The Hailstorm is a little side project Aki has been working on. Remember that Serpentis base we were contracted to take down a few weeks ago?"

"Oh the one where they had a hard-on for frigates? Easy to kill but so many of they it took ages!"

"Exactly. Aki came to me after with an idea. I told him to build a prototype. Now we get to test it."

The viewscreen on the bridge flickered to a hull mounted camera on the top of the ship. One of the hull plates that was made to look like a make-shift repair slid open and the launcher assembly rose up on its platform. It looked like a rapid-light missile launcher, similar to the ones used on cruisers for attacking frigates. Only this one had more launch tubes with smaller diameter. The launcher tracked the orbiting fighter wing.


"We're locked on Captain, however I'd like to point out that this is a prototype and never used in anger." Aki said.

"Well lets hope for a successful first test then. Fire!"

The rockets streaked from the launcher in their dozens. Each tube had multiple rockets stacked in it and they launched one after the other. The exhaust smoke from so many rockets fogged the view of the screen.

"Report"

"Sensors show five fighters down Captain. One left."

"Launch a flight of augmented drones but make sure one of them is a special. Web that lone fighter!"

The smoke had started to dissipate as the Katsu Maru projected a graviton beam at the final fighter. Its velocity dropped immediately as the gravitational field built up around it. The five combat drones streaked from a tube disguised as the waste jettison and closed quickly. The fighter tried to evade but the increased mass from the stasis webifier made it as maneuverable as a 'roid. A laser tracker then fired from the Mammoth. The electronic signature radius of the fighter bloomed. The drones targeting computers were able to lock on much better with the painter on the craft. The fighter broke apart in flames as the five drones opened fire.

"OK leave the drones and warp!"

The Katsu Maru slipped almost instantaneously into warp as they had maintained their alignment.

"We're clear." Yoshi confirmed.

"Good. Set a course for Gallente Prime. Apparently the CEO of Thanan Industries is there for a charity event. I've got a feeling they are up to their necks in this and we need to find out what they are up to. I want full background on him and the company. Report in an hour!"

-o0o-

The senior officers sat around the conference table sixty minutes later.

"OK what do we have?" the Captain asked.

"Thanan Fiert. CEO and owner of Thanan Industries. Formed 15 years ago as a specialty mining company. They scan down rogue asteroids away from belts and mine them out. This started was before the real rise of the capsuleers so there was a lot to be made from mining. This is the most recent picture we have of him, but its 12 years old." Riku explained as a picture appeared on the screen. Thanan was a Gallente, late 30's with black hair and a slender build. He was dressed in formal Gallente wear with an attractive blonde woman in an evening gown. It looked to be some social event.

"Nothing more recent?" the Captain asked.

"Its strange Captain. From the formation of his company to when this picture was captured there are lots. He appeared to be at some high-society event almost weekly. He was a philanthropist of the highest order. The society pages from the Luminaire rags had him featured weekly. However after this event, which was a charity dinner for wildlife preservation on Gallente Prime, he went dark. He stopped going to the events and fell from the public eye overnight. Nobody claims to have seen him in years."

The Captain picked up his datapad and flicked through the articles Riku has collated. It was exactly how he had said. This man was in the public eye on an almost daily basis and then suddenly 12 years ago it was like he'd been swallowed by a wormhole.

"Criminal checks?"

"This is where it gets strange Captain. His file on the Gallente security database is clean except for one entry. A few days after that charity dinner there was a case file opened and attached to his record. No details or even a category. Just a reference number and lead officer. The files are sealed at Federal level."

"So we don't know what that is about? That sounds rather unusual."

"Nothing on the file sir, however during my digging I found something I think may be connected."

The screen changed to a digital certificate. It was a Gallente Death Certificate, the name was Ambelane Fiert and noted next of kin was her husband, Thanan Fiert. It was dated nine days after the charity dinner.

"So his wife died a week after a file was opened concerning him in an active police investigation. Ingvar, you're most likely to pass for a Fed. You'll be paying that investigating officer a visit. See what you can find out."

The Matari nodded. Sosa knew he was most likely not to raise suspicion. 25% of the Matari race lived within the Federation and they had taken jobs in all parts of society. Caldari working for the Feds would be suspicious and as most of the crew of the Katsu Maru were Caldari options were limited.

"Where are we with Thanan's whereabouts?"

"Aki hacked the top hotels in the system and located him at one on the Duvolle Laboratories Factory station. I'll let Aki fill you in."

Aki stood and tapped on his datapad. The viewscreen changed to a picture of the station.

"Thanan checked into the penthouse suite two days ago. The hotel is also holding a charity auction of rare Caldari artifacts later tonight. We assume thats the auction you were told he is attending. Last night was the reception to whet the buyers appetites. I've pulled security camera footage from the hotels system. No cameras on the penthouse level, only the lift."

The screen flickered showing the interior of the lift with a suited Gallente man. The officers recognised Thanan from the previous picture.

"He checks in and goes straight to the room. His luggage is brought up a few minutes later. Then nothing until this guy."

The screen fast forwarded to show a man in a hotel uniform ascending in the lift and stepping out.

"Who is that?"

"Bouey Sadereron, head concierge. I checked the hotels staff database to match faces. He spends five minutes in the penthouse and then leaves. Thanan reappears at 19:30."

The screen showed Thanan in formal dress descending.

"Now it gets interesting. This is 21:00 hours" Aki stated moving the video on again. Low whistles rang out around the table as the picture showed two stunningly attractive women and the head concierge again.

"Very nice." Riku said. "Any idea who they are?"

"Professionals." Aki replied.

"They don't look like assassins to me!" he said concerned. Aki sighed.

"You've been in this game too long. Not those types of professionals! The other type of professionals!"

"Oh!" Riku replied realising his mistake.

"I took facial scans and searched the local GalNet. That is Miss Lisika and Miss Esalion from the Gallente Angels Executive Companion Service. For the bargain price of two and a half thousand creds each, you can have their company for a whole 4 hours."

"Two and a half grand for four hours? Captain I need a raise!" Yoshi joked.

"We then see Thanan return at 21:30 sharp. He left the reception early according to the information I got." the video span on to show Thanan in the lift. He was sweating and clearly agitated.

"Now, things get really interesting. 22:15."

The video showed the empty lift. The door opened and the Caldari woman burst into the lift crying. She was mostly undressed and clutching her dress to her body. The Gallente woman was next. Whilst she was wearing her dress it was obvious she had put it on in a rush. She wasn't crying but looked concerned. She tried to comfort the hysterical Caldari woman. Aki paused the video as the Caldari woman raised her head, showing a bright red mark on her face.

"Captain, can I swap assignments? I'd like to have a chat with this Thanan." Ingvar growled.

"Steady big man. We need the full story. I have a feeling you'll get to chat to him at some point."

"OK, but just so you know Thanan Fiert has been promoted to the top of my shit-list."

The Captain nodded. The hulking Brutor was known to have a particular hatred for men that hit women.The Captain paused.

"OK, here is the plan. I need a room at an adjacent hotel. Call Gallente Angels and book me that Gallente girl for 18:00 hours at the room. Next call Duvolle. I'm guessing at such a big auction event on their own station they have been sent an invite, I want that invite. Ingvar, you pay a visit to the officer heading Thanan's old case and find out what you can. Riku take one of the shuttles. See where our lost drone ended up. I need a tuxedo! OK, any questions?"

The staff rose from their seats in silence, ready to enact the Captain's orders.

-o0o-


Evotes Esalion rode the lift alone. It was a last minute booking but was happy that she'd been requested by name. It showed the agency she was in demand. She was thinking about renegotiating her fee with the agency. Their 40% cut was too much and she knew she could get a better deal elsewhere. She look at herself in the mirrored wall of the lift. The Client hadn't made any requests so she'd gone with her default outfit. Smart enough to walk through the hotel without attracting too much attention, but enough so that a few men's heads would turn.

"Just please let him not be like last night" she said quietly to herself.

The lift stopped and she got out. Room 4216 was at the end of the corridor. She knocked on the door and waited. The door opened and the man stood there was Caldari. She'd place him in his late 40's, short greying hair and clean shaven. He was attractive in a rugged way, very fit looking at his body and had an air of authority about him in the way he carried himself. He smiled.

"Please come in"

She entered the suite and the man gestured to a seat by a small table with two glasses of wine.

"Would you care for a drink?" he asked taking the other seat.

"No thank you, I'm fine" she replied. Safety 101. Stay in control and do not drink from already poured drinks when with a new Client.

The man placed an envelope on the table. She could see from its thickness it was around the right amount of cred-notes. He then placed a second, much thicker envelope next to it.

"What's that for?" she asked getting a bit nervous.

"Your fee and a little extra for some information." the Caldari man replied.

"I do many things, talking about Clients is not one of them." she said sternly wondering if this was a test or if he was a reporter.

"Normally I'd expect nothing less. However I am not press or law enforcement. The information I am after is regarding a man who may not be slow in using his fist that you met yesterday."

Evotes' face dropped and she stood.

"Sorry I have to go."

The man also rose.

"The black eye must be a problem in her line of work. There is an extra 10k on the table, that should cover your friend whilst she is unable to work."

Evotes was already half way to the door when she stopped. She spoke without turning.

"If anyone finds out I spoke to you...."

"They won't." the man replied.

She turned and walked back to the table picking up the wine glass and taking a large gulp.

"What do you want to know?" she asked quietly.

"Tell me what happened last night?"

Evotes started the story that she'd been booked along with Lisika. Their outfits had been specified in minute detail, they'd even had to go shopping to make sure they were right. On arriving at the hotel the Concierge had taken them to the penthouse and let them in. They'd found instructions in the bedroom so had gotten undressed and were sat on the bed waiting. The Client had arrived when he said he would.

"What happened where he got back?"

"He came into the bedroom and leant against the wall watching us. We put on a show for him. The note said that's what we should do and Lisika was supposed to be the dominant one. After a while he joined us. He was so tender with me, in fact it was creepy. However, I'll take that over what he was like with Lisika."

"How was he?"

"Rough. Nasty. Like he hated her but he had never met her. We are used to Clients liking that, you know, the rough stuff, but he was really strange. Every time he swap between us he'd change completely. With me tender and loving, with Lisika nasty and starting to get rougher. In the end he lost it. Started screaming at Lisika  it was all her fault and hit her. We both ran at that point. He wired double the fee to the agency and they gave Lisika a week off and waived their cut of the fee to keep us quiet."

"Thank you." Sosa said quietly. "Please take the money. You've been very helpful."

The woman looked surprised. She smiled picked up the envelopes and left. Sosa picked up his datapad as soon as the door clicked shut and opened a secure line to the ship which was docked in the hangers below.

"Yoshi, had a nice chat with our friendly lady of the night. Sounds like Thanan's a bit unstable, have we heard from Riku or Ingvar?"

"Captain! That was quick! You paid for four hours you know!"

"Very droll number one. Well?"

"Riku is at the Matari station in Tama. It appears he's found the Thanatos. As you assumed, they weren't going to leave drones worth millions floating in space so they grabbed them. The signal on the transmitter on drone 5 is still transmitting. The Thanatos belongs to Black Sun Securities."

"Those Mercs masquerading as private security? How are they involved? Thanan Industries must lodge their accounts at Federal level, see if...."

"Already done Captain. Want to know who Thanan Industries pays to provide private security?"

"I can guess! Tell Riku to scout the facility. We are still missing a dozen scientists including Dr Gian."

"I would Captain but Riku is off-comms."

The Captain sighed.

"Don't tell me, he's already inside the carrier?"

"I did order him to wait for your orders but he had an opportunity to get on board and he took it."

"Roger that. Keep me updated, I've got an auction to attend."

-o0o-

Thanan entered the auction room. It was already too busy and he was sweating. He looked at the glass case on the stage. Various ancient Caldari weapons and armour were displayed along with several paintings, scrolls and books. He clutched the pamphlet tight. They wouldn't tell him what order the items would be auctioned off in. So he had to attend the whole thing. He spotted a waiter carrying a silver tray of drinks and he crossed the room and took one. He avoided people the best he could. He didn't want to be here, but he had to be.

After what felt like an hour, the auctioneer called the room to order. Thanan took his seat and nervously held his paddle. First up was a Caldari sword believed to be some six thousand years old. Bidding was fierce and the weapon sold for near quarter of a million credits. Next was a suit of ceremonial armour, nearly as old as the sword. There were then two paintings showing an ancient Caldari Prime village. A frozen world from a time long forgotten. Finally the lot he was interested in.

"Lot number 16. Written in ancient Caldari its title translates as "War and Rule". The document is authenticated by the Calle University as coming from the Heian‎ dynasty some five thousand years ago. It chronicles a long and hard campaign by a local warlord to conquer the PLAINS of Caldari Prime. A certificate is provided that the document has never been digitised and this is the only copy. A true collectors piece read only by a handful of people ever. Who will start at ten thousand Gallente Credits?" the auctioneer asked.

The bidding start briskly but Thanan held back. Bids started to reduce when it passed fifty thousand. By eighty only two were left. Thanan waited for a pause after what everyone expected to be the winning bid of eighty five thousand.

"One hundred thousand!" he stated loudly raising his paddle.

There were whispered murmurs around the room.

"One hundred thousand from paddle 29. Sir the bid is against you." the auctioneer said to the man who had placed the last bid. He seemed reluctant to go further. "No? I have one hundred thouasand going once."

"One hundred and ten thousand!" a voice from the back called.

Thanan span in his seat searching out who dared try and take this from him. He saw a Caldari man in a suit at the back and his blood boiled.

"One hundred and fifty thousand!" he called, turning back to the auctioneer. Gasps rose from the crowd.

"Two hundred thousand!" the Caldari man called.

Thanan turned red. He breathed deeply and paused trying to stop himself losing control. Why was it always the Caldari. It just proved he was just in his crusade.

"Five hundred thousand!" Thanan yelled, barely concealing his rage.

The crowd was stunned. From ten thousand credits guide price it appeared this book wrote in a language no longer spoken was going to fetch half a million credits.

Thanan span around, hatred in his eyes. The Caldari man just smiled and left the room. Thanan barely heard the auctioneer cry "Sold!" as he slammed the hammer down.

As Thanan left the room moments later he did not see Captain Sosa stood in the shadows. He tapped his finger to his throat mic.

"Yoshi. A manuscript at the auction called "War and Rule" is what Thanan was desperately after. I have no idea how a 5000 year old book ties into current events but it does."

"I take it you couldn't outbid the multimillionaire mining mongol?" his XO asked.

"Not a chance. I had a go which annoyed him. We'll go to plan B. Tonight I'm going to settle down with a good book."

To be continued....