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....

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

BB76 - The FC's Flagship

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 76th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are please visit the Blog Banter page.

At fanfest CCP Fozzie proposed a potential new ship class. Lets call it the fleet commander's flagship for now. This is to try and prevent "FC Headshotting" where the opposing fleet knows who the FC is and alpha's them off the field leaving the rest of the fleet in confusion and disarray. Fozzie mentioned a ship with a great tank but no offensive abilities. Is this a good idea? Is FC head-shotting a legitimate tactic? If CCP do go down the route of a "flagship" how might this work? Also is a new ship the answer or is there another way of giving an FC the ability not to be assassinated 12 seconds into the fight without letting players exploit it?

-oOo-

Before we start thinking about the ship itself, the first thing to consider are Eve Players. Capsuleers are named in the lore as the "Gods of Destruction". The players behind them are the "Gods of Exploitation". Whilst we are talking about a ship designed for FC's to prevent fleet headshotting, we must also think about the creative ways players could abuse any ship with such abilities. For example FW farming is a personal bugbear of mine. Skill injector and PLEX movers could do so in safety. You are not going to get alpha'd on the Jita undock by a lone suicide ganker in a ship designed to withstand an entire fleet's alpha.


The ship must be versatile to fit into the most common fleet types. It should be able to hold itself in a battleship fleet, but also must keep up with a T3 Cruiser fleet. My initial thought of a battleship hull for the "flagship" means it would only be useful in battleship fleets right? We need to step down at least one hull size. We also don't want to break lore and no cruiser sized hull should have a tank better than a T3 equivalent. So how about something in between.

I imagine a T3 battlecruiser. However working more like a T3 destroyer than a T3 cruiser. It has 'modes' that can be switched between just like the destroyers.

"Attack Mode"
The ship is similar to a Battlecrusier. Not as tanky as a Command Ship, but better than the normal T1 BC. It has normal weapons, drones and the like. It should also be more maneuverable and faster. We want a ship that can fly with a cruiser fleet and not hold them up a lot, but also can fit into a battleship fleet.


"Boost Mode"
Acts like a command ship. Can run up to three warfare links at the same time however the boost is not as good as a proper command ship. Again, the ship is better than a T1 BC, but worse than a command ship.


"Turtle Mode"
Diverts power from hi-slot modules weapons to shields. Shuts down non-essential electronics to reduce signature radius. Basically all high-slot modules are offline and drone bandwith drops to zero. However shields or armour (depending on race) get massive resists and signature radius is tiny compared to normal mode. It can still target (so the FC can see enemy tank of the primary) but cannot take any offensive action.


OK so how will players exploit that? With the FW farmers they can only do large (ungated) plex and their defense is they can swap to turtle mode and hope the person who caught them gets bored of trying to break their uber-tank. I do not see this as being a popular farming ship compared to a stabbed Tristan or a throw-away Atron. Especially at the price of a T3 and the likelihood of being caught.

The problem will be hauling. The cargo hold can be minimal, but that will still allow small items like PLEX and skill injectors to be carried in relative safety. Could it have a small "ammo only" bay. The mechanics are there so you can only put a ship containing charges inside a carrier. Also we have drone bays, ore bays, PI bays. I assume CCP can easily make a "charge only" bay that can carry ammo, nanite paste and cap boosters and nothing else. That might be one way to stop the ship being used as haulers.


The mode swapping should have a long cool down. 5 minutes? This will prevent the FC using boost mode and swapping to turtle every time they get yellow boxed. This will also help with things like gate camps. A ship that can burn back to gate and make it even if webbed due to the tank. 5 minutes allows time to get more DPS there. Make it an expensive ship requiring a lot of expensive components to build and people will think twice about using it. Especially those risk-averse who might see it is an ideal ship.

So that's a rough idea of what might work. Whatever road CCP go down I don't think it'll be an easy ship to balance.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Blog Banter 76 - Tanky McTankFace

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 76th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are please visit the Blog Banter page.

Blog Banter 76 - Tanky McTankFace


At fanfest CCP Fozzie proposed a potential new ship class. Let's call it the fleet commander's flagship for now. This is to try and prevent "FC Headshotting" where the opposing fleet knows who the FC is and alpha's them off the field leaving the rest of the fleet in confusion and disarray. Fozzie mentioned a ship with a great tank but no offensive abilities. Is this a good idea? Is FC head-shotting a legitimate tactic? If CCP do go down the route of a "flagship" how might this work? Also is a new ship the answer or is there another way of giving an FC the ability not to be assassinated 12 seconds into the fight without letting players exploit it?

Banter on...


Contributors...

Grimmash on Gaming - Blog Banter 76: Whither Flagships?
The Wormhole - BB76 - Tanky McTankFace
SCASS - BB76 - The FC's Flagship
Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah - Blog Banter 76 - Flagships
YADOT – A CAPSULEERS ADVENTURE - BB76 – The FC’s new chariot
The Ancient Gaming Noob - BB76 – The Sanctity of the Fleet Commander
Morphisat's Blog - Blog Banter 76 – Bull’s Eye

Friday, June 10, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 3

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 3

"Captain on deck!" Yoshi spoke loudly as the bridge crew stood.

Captain Sosa took his seat. He and Riku had rendezvoused with the Kasu Maru in the Teimo system after their meeting with Thanan Industries back in the OMS system. The fast two-man shuttle had only taken a short whilst to cover the six jumps.

"XO report. I see we have found our wayward Nestor."

"Yes sir. We scan it down to this belt. When we arrived we found some local Guristas trying to crack her open. We scared them off but the Nestor has been unresponsive. Ingvar took a team over in a shuttle but one they latched on the computer showed the atmosphere inside was only 5% O2 and cold. They've been breaking out the cold-gear and breathing masks. They entered only a minute ago."

"Ignvar? You there?" the Captain asked aloud.

"Right here Captain. Welcome back, you missed all the fun. There's a Rattler pilot in a pirate bar somewhere being mocked from running from a Mammoth!"

"So I hear, what's the situation over there?"

"Colder than a winters night on Caldari Prime Cap. Ships on emergency power mode. Aki is trying to get power back online so at least we can piggy back a vid-signal. Interference from the ships hull makes it voice comms only until we do."

"Roger that. Any signs of what happened?"

"That's a negative sir. No evidence of a disaster, accident or weapons fire. Looks like a mothballed ship. Wait, powers on!"


The viewscreen on the Katsu Maru flickered and the feed showing the Nestor was replaced by the camera mounted on Ingvar's shoulder. The corridor was bright white with the ship builders logo, the Sisters of Eve, emblazoned next to Thanan Industries logo. The team went room by room; labs, rec rooms, offices. No sign of anything untoward other than it was deserted. Ingvar ordered his team to the hab-deck. The deck where the crew lived, reasoning if anyone was onboard they might be there. The first room they came to was the mess hall. Unfinished meals littered the tables but no signs of the crew. They continued to the quarters section. The first door they came to was locked.

"Aki?" Ingvar said over comms.

"On it. It's been sealed by the computer and I'm having trouble getting into the system. Can you run a local bypass?"

The camera view shook as one of Ingvars team moved to the door panel and unscrewed the access panel. He clipped some wires to the exposed circuitry and tapped on his datapad. A second later the door opened.

"We got bodies." Ingvar said quietly.

The video screen showed a man laying on the floor in uniform. Ingvar checked him. He slipped off a glove and placed two fingers on the man's neck.

"Long dead, stone cold."

"OK Ingvar, skip the other rooms. We've not got time for this. Head to the Captain's or XO's quarters, should be at the far end. They should have files on their datapads stored locally in case of network failure. You should be able to find Doctor Gian's room unless Aki can get into the computer quicker."

"Sorry Captain." Aki spoke over comms "I'm in finally, but there is nothing here. The entire computer system has been wiped clean including the AI."

The Captain watched as Ingvar led his team to the far end of the hab-dec. As expected the door spacing grew as the rooms became larger. At the far end the Captain's and XO's quarters were labeled. They hacked the door of the XO first as he was more likely to have the crew manifest being responsible for day-to-day operations. They found the XO in bed with the covers pulled up tightly to fight the cold. It hadn't saved him. Ingvar located his datapad and used the dead man's thumb to unlock it.

"Got it Captain. Room 42-341." there was a pause. "Some interesting stuff here Captain, we'll check the Doctor's room and return."

-o0o-

Thanan Fiert returned to his suite sweating and his hands shaking. He loosened the formal dress shirt and removed the jacket. He walked to the small bar and grabbed the decanter from the top pouring a healthy measure of the amber liquid into a crystal glass. His shaking hands meant he spilt some as he poured. Downing the drink he sighed as the liquid burnt his throat. He could have sent an assistant but that would be a loose end he'd need to sort out later. No, he needed to do that himself. The reception for the auction was horrible, he'd not been to a social event like that since before... that time. However it had been worth it. The book was the original and came with a certificate guaranteeing that it was the only copy and had never been digitised. A true collector's item, something only a handful of people had read. Of which one was already dead. The one that had led him to the book and the story. He poured another glass and downed that too.

He picked up his datapad. Two urgent messages were waiting for him. The first was from his assistant back at HQ. Apparently two Douvolle Labs employees had been to visit keen to contact Dr Gian. Surely it couldn't be a coincidence. He had been warned that the ion weapon needed time to lock and fire. There was a few seconds opportunity for anyone onboard to transmit a message. Unlikely, but possible. He needed to assume Douvalle Labs was suspicious. The second message was worse. The outpost in Teimo said they still had the Nestor on scan and there was a Mammoth class industrial there too. He tapped a reply into his datapad and placed it on the table. He poured a third drink with shaking hands. Whilst an unfortunate turn of events it didn't matter at this stage. The worst that could happen is that they would know who was behind the ultimate catastrophe he had planned. He didn't care. Once it was done, he wouldn't care about anything anymore.

He downed the drink and walked over to the bedroom. He opened the door and looked in. The two girls lounging on his bed looked up. They were exactly how he'd specified. The Gallente woman was in white lingerie. Delicate lace and silks. The stockings were glossy and topped with white lace and suspenders. The Caldari woman was the opposite. Black and a mix of leather and PVC. The heels on her stocking clad legs looked like they could double up as a weapon. The women looked at him with hunger in their eyes. He entered the room but kept his distance, leaning against the wall. He gave a slight nod and the women came together, kissing hungrily. We watched them for a while switching the focus of his attention between the two. He watched lips and tongues meet. Hands explore. Finally he walked towards the bed, unbuttoning his shirt. For this night he'd be able to forget for a short time. To silence the screams if only for a few hours.

-o0o-
Detective Aleira looked at the files. Six universities or corporate research facilities hit over the same two nights. Six dead professors, nine dead security guards and a dozen of the guards families. Each MO was the same. One team would enter the home of the night guard or guards, they'd get a family member to call via their personal datapad and force the guard to let a second team into the facility. They'd steal the equipment and then kill everyone they'd involved.

She rose from her chair and walked over the kitchenette were a pot of strong coffee was keeping warm. It was late and the office was deserted. She had warned the remaining facilities still holding the same equipment. However she didn't expect a third night of attacks. It had already been a risky operation for the perps. If they'd made the connection on the first raids they could have been waiting for them the second night. The enquires she'd made today had revealed that the molecular lasers that had been stolen were very rare. It was a precision instrument that could break the molecular bonds of compounds. Generally only used in research, they were made by Carthum Conglomerate and sold cluster wide. Due to their power they were restricted and only sold to universities and research establishments that met strict security requirements. Around the clock armed guards, biometric security, class 1A blast doors and walls to prevent explosive breeches. Of course all this security meant nothing if you had the guards families and parts of the authorised professor's body.

Whilst she was worried about the brutality of the gang, they had not hesitated to hurt the guards families to get them to cooperate, the most worrying fact was their professionalism. They work in an almost militaristic fashion. This was no backstreet criminal gang. These were professionals.

She took the coffee back to her desk. Why would anyone want to steal six molecular lasers? The only people who would want to buy such devices, even on the black market, are the ones that they stole them from. She suddenly had an idea and placed the coffee down quickly and sent off a message to her contact at Carthum Conglomerate.


-o0o-

The senior officers were sat around the conference table as Ingvar started his report.

"As you saw from the video, the crew appeared to have been confined to quarters and the doors sealed. At some point after the jump back the main computer was wiped. That put the ship into emergency power mode taking everything offline including life support. If we hadn't arrived when we did those Guristas would have destroyed the ship for sure. No shields, amour hardeners and DC offline. We have two important clues onboard. First was when we visited Dr Gian's quarters. It was empty. We looked at the other scientists quarters and they were the same. All the crew, from the Captain down to the Technicians 3rd Class were left to die, but the science team were not there. Then we have this note on the XO's datapad. It appears it was left after the computer was wiped. As we know, the XO's datapad is usually running on local in case of disaster."

To whoever finds this. The ships AI has taken over and has jumped us back. We did not return to OMS but a beacon deeper into low-sec. The computer ordered us to our quarters, threatening to depressurise the ship. Some of the engineering team tried to take it offline but it used the fire suppression system to suffocate them. A short while later something large came near us, I felt the change in gravity. Nothing too big, I'm not talking titan, but something very big. The ship bucked at one point, I assume de docked with the ship. A short while after the power went into emergency mode and it seems life-support is down. The ship bucked again and the gravity shifted I assume as the unknown ship left. Whether it was a Bowhead, freighter or capital I do not know. I fear this is where we will all die never knowing what happened. The AI was deliberately programmed to do this. Someone betrayed us.
There was silence around the table as the crew took the message in. Such a death was a real threat when in space, and nobody wanted to go out like that.

"OK. Opinions?" the Captain asked finally.

"We were never meant to find this message or the ship. Assuming that the AI didn't go rogue and decide to kill everyone on a whim, it was working off a subroutine. That is supported by the fact it jumped to another beacon or cyno than the one at Thanan Industries. Once back here the third party disabled comms, used a large ship, perhaps a Bowhead as the XO suggested, to board and take the scientists and left the ship knowing that the Guristas pirates around here don't bother boarding. They take the low-risk approach and blow up the ship and then loot and salvage the wreckage. Here in the asteroid belt any evidence left after that would have been erased pretty quickly." Riku stated.

"OK, I concur." the Captain added "Anyone else?"

"Sir, looking at the electronic systems I'm seeing some EM damage and not from the Guristas. I believe some sort of ionic weapon was used to disable the systems, especially all comms systems. Even personal datapads would have been taken offline by the hit and subsequent ionisation of the hull." Aki added.

"Good work. I want a scan of the system and have a word with Duvolle Labs and see if they can get us the logs for the stargate. They must have some political pull at Federal level. If the Bowhead or whatever that intercepted the Nestor is in system I want to find it. If it left, I want to know who they were. Dismissed."

As the crew rose an alarm sounded. Red strobes in the corners flashed. The senior offices sprinted out of the conference room. They burst into the command centre sixty seconds later.

"Report" the Captain called as he jumped into his seat.

"Thanatos class carrier just warped in sir. They are launching fighters and locking us up!"

The viewscreen showed the massive ship, three wings of fighters streaking from its launch tubes. The Captain didn't need to make an assessment. The Katsu Maru was one of the most advanced ships in the cluster, but it stood no chance against a carrier.

"Fighters lining up for an attack run Captain!"

"Align to the Kedama gate, get us out of here."

"Yes sir, but they'll be on us before we can warp! One of those fighter wings have warp disruptors."

The crew watched as their ship turned towards the distant stargate as the tactical readout showed the fighters as red blips approaching at high speed.


To be continued.....

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

So Quiet...

Having died horribly to a gate camp yesterday I thought I'd have a proper roam around our new local area. I started heading "east" via Agoze and the cluster of 5 systems there. All devoid of ships in space. I headed north up via Frarie and Villirer. Bugger all. I retraced back to Ostingele and headed north to the three systems that border hi-sec. Nothing. I then went south to Uphallant and swung around to Aunsou. Then back to Ostingele. Nothing!

"Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space."
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

I went on a 40 minute roam and all I got were these lousy screenshots! I do hope it improves around here and that I caught it on a bad day!






Monday, June 6, 2016

Solo, 17 Jumps, What's the Worst That Could Happen?

So with Stay Frosty moved home I need to move some ships. Plan is to log on, jump clone back to Isho to see what I can fly to our new home and blog whether I DIAF or murder someone's spaceship.

Erm..... feck it. I'll take the Flabber and see what happens! UNDOCK!

First stop Uuna. Nothing interesting to see here as I'm the only person in local. Onto Manjonakko! 6 others in local but its a station system. Nothing on scan at the in-gate. Nothing on scan at the out gate... erm....

SOCKET CLOSED!


FFS! Log back in. Nothing on scan at the out gate... again! Mushikegi has a couple of frigates inside a novice plex which accounts for everyone in system. Okkamon has 23, might get interesting. Nope, all docked up other than a destroyer running a plex. Onto Reitsato. 8 others in system, nothing at scan on either gate. Kedama has a lonely frozen corpse on the in gate. 18 in system, probably Tama gate camp? Eos command ship at a safe mid-system, nothing on scan from out gate.

Ah my old stomping grounds of Nisuwa. 13 in system, Firetail in one of the plex probably, a few open. Onto Oinasiken! Oin's not changed in the years I've been away, farmers farming in Atron's they've not even bother to rename... or fit probably. Oh a Tristan too. Lets see Abune. A few in local but destroyer and frigate. There is a Citadel here! Gates all empty. Heydieles the same but its only 75k between the gates.


12 in system, lots flashy. Hawk on gate goes for point. However I've already checked scan. Boosts on scan as well as Rapier and Curse and more. I manage to warp off. Straight to their camp sat at the next gate! I attempted to warp away but the Curse has me. More land, some jump through. Yeah I'm buggered! I jump the gate and there are even more there. Proper camp both sides! I launch drones and engage knowing its useless. Too many against my wittle cruiser.


Get my pod out and GF in local which is met with stoney Russian silence. Next system in route is completely empty! Typical! Its a pod slow boat now for the four remaining jumps. Oh well, could be worse... wait... I jumped into my capital ship clone didn't I as that was the last one left in Isho?

Oh....... FFFFFFFFFFF.......


P.S. Cap Ship Clone made it home safely!

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 2

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!


The Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 2

The senior officers assembled in the conference room. Captain Sosa was the last to arrive and took his seat at the head of the table.

"OK, so Duvolle confirmed they had seconded one of their scientists for a six month stint at Thanan Industries. They were going to be working interstellar so no communication. They left a month ago. Yesterday they got a partial message from their scientist that appear to suggest the ship was back."

"How did they get interstellar?" Riku asked.

"A probe was launched several years ago and had been slow boating to the destination were it deployed a beacon similar to that used in capsuleer jump bridges. They then jumped the ship."

"Where did the message originate from?"

"The message originated via the fluid-router from the Kedama stargate in Teimo"

"That's remote! Low-sec, dead-end, no stations, no habitable planets. Mostly just capsuleers fighting over sov and thats low key as its not a strategic system."

The Captain nodded. Teimo was a minor solar system very few people ever visited. It was not on any route, it had a stargate connection to Kedama but that was it, if you entered Teimo, you exited the same way. The system was used by some capsuleers for extraction of minerals, compounds and goods but nobody lived there. The planets were mostly barren or gas giants with a couple of more exotic types such as storm or lava. No temperate planets at all. Not great for human habitation and therefore Teimo was quiet.

"We'll be hitting low-sec in a few minutes. When we do, Riku and I will leave in a shuttle. Thanan Industries as their HQ in the OMS system. We'll pay them a visit. Yoshi, continue to Teimo and see if you can find that Nestor. Its a big ship so doubtful its gone far. Also see if you can get a copy of the gate logs. See if any Nestor class ships have been through the gate in the last 24 hours. Any questions?"

The officers shook their heads.


-o0o-

Ahan glanced at the rows of monitors. The various corridors and atriums all appeared empty. The campus was quiet, just the way he liked it. Some security guards craved actions. Wanna-be cops who dreamt of a break in so they could save the day and be heros. Ahan didn't, his dream that nobody ever broke in or did anything that needed him to react to. If he could do his 9 hour shift reading the gutter press and drinking coffee he'd be happy. There was also the big red button. The master alarm that would summon the real police. He wouldn't even leave the secure office if there was a proper break in. Simply hit the button and put his feet up and let the cops do the work. That's what they were paid for. He was just getting into a story about a Gallente politician rumoured to be spending one night a week with a five thousand cred a night bio-engineered call girl when his communicator bleeped. He looked and saw it was he daughter. At 1am the little girl should have been fast asleep. He picked it up and answered.

"Hey sweetie what's up?"

""Daddy...." there was something wrong in the way she spoke.

"What's wrong....."

"I am." the gruff male voice sent a chill through Ahan soul.

"Who are you?"

"That's not important. What is important is I'm here with your daughter and your lovely wife. Both could come through this unharmed, if you are very careful."

"What do you want?" Ahan asked, his voice on the edge of breaking.

"Check camera 45."

Ahan looked up at the monitors. Camera 42 covered the loading dock for the science building. Four men dressed in black with masks waited by the door.

"Open the door." the voice commanded.

With trembling hands Ahan complied, taping the commands into his console. He watched the men travel through the building, opening the doors remotely. They finally reached the advanced molecular physics lab.

"Open the door."

"I can't. That one is a secure area. I need the professors keycodes!"

"Look outside your door."

Ahan rose from his chair and walked over to the door. He peered out of the small reinforced window and saw a small box on the floor outside the door.

"Get the box!"

"No! I'm not unlocking this door!"

He strained to hear what was happening on the other end of the communicator. He could hear a muffled noise. Then a gasp.

"Ahan?" it was his wife's voice.

"Ires!" he sobbed.

There was a strange bang followed by a shrill female scream.

"NO!" he shouted.

"You're wife just lost a rather big chunk of her left foot. Should save you a fortune on expensive shoes in the future." the man sneered. "You getting the box or do I do her other foot?"

Ahan opened the door and glanced either way down the empty corridor. He grabbed the box and retreated back into the security office, locking the door securely. Sitting down he could see the four men still outside the molecular physics lab.

He open the box and was nearly sick. A severed human finger was laying there along with a note.

"The professors ID and code. Now open the door. I doubt a security guards salary is going to pay to put your wife back together if I start again."

With shaking hands, Ahan picked up the severed finger and held it against the reader whilst punching in the codes. The door on the monitor opened and the four men entered. He watched them as they went to a bank of crates, selected one and started to carry it out. They worked fast and within minutes had exited the building.

"Well done Ahan. You've been most helpful." the man on the other end of the communicator said.

"My wife and my daughter! Don't hurt them!" he sobbed.

However the line was dead. He was about to call back when the box that had contained the severed finger bleeped twice and exploded with the force of a grenade.

-o0o-


Sosa and Riku were sat in the plush reception of Thanan Industries. The receptionist had brought them coffee. Sosa was reading up on the company on his datapad. Formed 12 years ago by Thanan Fiert, they had made a great deal of money in the extraction and trade of rare minerals. Low volume high-price. Details on the owner appeared to be scarce. There was a lot more in the first two years. Society magazines covering charity events he attended and business publications featuring interviews. Then a decade ago everything stopped. He just vanished from the public eye. Movement caught Sosa's eye as a tall, skinny Gallente man exited a lift and walked towards them. Sora and Riku stood.

"Gentlemen. I am Deuverin Ygymet and the Chief Operations Officer for Thanan Industries. Please, this way." he gestured to a glass fronted room off the reception area. They entered and sat around the small circular table.

"I understand you are from Douvolle Laboratories?"

"We are interested in the whereabouts of Dr Gian?" Sora replied not replying directly to the question.

"Oh yes, our special mission. I'm afraid the location is classified but I can confirm it is deep in interstellar space. I must say Duvolle know this, why are you here?" his tone changing.

"There has been a death in the family and we need to contact the doctor as a matter of urgency. Is there no way of contacting her?"

"I'm afraid not. They are two-light years from the nearest stargate. FTL communications are thus impossible. If they wanted to send a message it would take 24 months for it to be received. Given they will be back in five months they'll be back 18 months before that message arrives."

"There is no reason they would come back early?"

"Well if there was a problem. We have a jump beacon attached to this outpost. Therefore as long as their jump drive is working, then they could return at any time if there was cause. However the beacon out in deep space will not last forever and jump fuel is so expensive we'd hope the Captain would only return in case of a real emergency."

"And they will return here?" Sosa asked.

"Yes. Where else would they go?"

"Is it possible to speak to Thanan?"

"I'm afraid not. Mr Fiert has a charity event on Gallente Prime tomorrow night and has already left. I'm sorry I have not been able to help gentlemen but the ship is uncontactable. It is regrettable that Dr Gian cannot be contacted regarding the death but I'm afraid there is nothing we can do but wait."

The man rose signaling the meeting was over.

-o0o-

"System is reportedly empty sir. Nothing on the local channel."

"Launch probes. I want a scan of the entire system." Yoshi ordered. "We all know there'll be some pirates out there with their transponders off. May be our Nestor is the same!"

The bridge crew worked silently as the probes were launched and warped away. A grid pattern overlaid the solar system map as the probes reached their positions. Each probe then cycled its scan.

"Sir we have about 30 ships in space. Two battleship class." Aki highlighted the general areas of the battleships.

"OK, lets close down on one and see what we have."

Aki programed the probes to change position, forming a larger bubble around the general area of the scan results. After the probes had cycled their scan a more pinpointed reading appeared.

"Its a Scorpion class hull sir. Probably Guristas."

"OK lets try the other."

Again the probes were repositioned around the other location where a battleship class ship had been detected. The probes cycled and the result got the entire bridge crews attention.

"Nestor class. Lets lock that position down!" Yoshi ordered.

The scan result was at 63% strength. The probes were repositioned again and their range reduced. As the range of the scan was reduced, its strength increased allowing better pinpointing. After the scans had cycled they were at 91%. One more time, with the position clearer, the probes were moved and their range reduced.

"Scan locked at 100% sir!" Aki confirmed.

"Helm warp us to 10km from the ship. Sound general quarters. Lets e ready."

The ship accelerated hard before slipping into warp. From the external appearance, most would immediately discount the ship as a threat to anything. A rusting hauler covered in make-shift repairs. However the Katsu Maru was one of the most advanced ships in the Legion. A covert operations vessel packing the firepower of a battlecruiser and the speed of a destroyer. The ship started to decelerate and dropped below light speed in a flash.

"Contacts! We have a Guristas force attacking the Nestor!" Ingvar called out as the ship decelerated. "A Rattlesnake, two Gilas and a Worm."

The pirates saw the industrial drop from warp. One of the cruisers broke off and started to close.

"Lock up all four ships. Once that Gila is in range let him have it. Set a course for that Rattlesnake."


The pirates in the cruiser looked on at the apparently hapless industrial. Their method of operation was always the same. Blow the target up and then sift through the wreckage for loot and salvage. Their ships were generally not designed for boarding actions. As the ships closed within 5km the Gila fired its blasters, the shields on the Katsu Maru lighting up. That was the first clue the pirates got that they were doomed. The volley should have decimated the aging industrials shields, instead it simply dinted them. What appeared to be plates welded to the Mammoth's hull as emergency repairs slid back, revealing they concealed 220mm vulcan cannons and heavy assault launchers. The cruiser banked hard but they were too close. The first volley ripped through the shields, the second penetrating the armour. The ship spinned out of control into the asteroid belt.

"The Rattlesnake is breaking off and heading right for us!"

"Launch drones and have them target the frigate. Primary the Rattler and keep the second Gila locked up."

A flight of modified Hobgoblin drones shot from a launch tube. The Gallente-built combat drones immediately went after the frigate. The Rattlesnake engaged the Mammoth, a salvo of torpedoes fired from its launch tubes. The crew of the battleship looked on in surprise as the industrial accelerated well beyond what should have been possible. Like many things on the Katsu Maru, its engines were battlecruiser rated and powered the vessel to speeds no other ship of its class was capable of, even capsuleer piloted vessels. The slow torpedoes exploded behind the ship, the bast radius making only slight damage to the shields.

"Frigate is down. Rattler is 35% shields. Gila untouched. We are 76% shields."

Seeing that not everything was as it seemed the lumbering battleship started to align towards the distant star. The faster and more agile cruiser entered warp first.

"Looks like they are running sir? Should we point the Rattler?"

"Negative. We're here for the Nestor, keep firing but let them go if they try."

A few seconds later the Rattlesnake slipped into warp and vanished.

"Get us along side the Nestor. Ingvar assemble a team and get over there."

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Camera - Wut?

I've not been active recently I admit. In fact I'm not even sure when I last logged on before today. However, I logged on today to find the corp has moved 17 jumps away! Rather than moving everything with carriers needing 4-jumps and the resultant space-aids, I'll buy new over there. I'll fly a few of my nicer ships the long way and jump-clone back. May be I can blog as I go...

What the.....


So yeah. This is a shot of my Dramiel.... or not. More precisely, a front fork. Where is my ship? Zooming out a bit and I'm off to the right.


Now it doesn't take much to confuse me. But I'm confused. Try playing with the controls Drack! Oh you can do an "over the shoulder" view...


That's cool and... wait... where the frack is it spinning to now? Mmmm must be tracking something!


I wanted to do a post about trying to get a fight whilst moving these ships the 17 jumps. However this new camera thingy has me distracted! I had a look when this was implemented (as I have been so lacking lately and might just not be remembering) and it appears yesterday and some people are not happy bunnies.

A lot of rage in that thread and to be honest, whilst I'm not a fan of this offset camera, I'm not going to be unsubbing. I ask in corp what people think and Joffy advises me to uncheck all boxes in the camera settings like so...


...and to use "Shift-C" to turn the camera tracking on and off.

Ahhhhh that's better! If you don't like the new camera settings, that sort of puts it back to the way it was... ish...


Monday, May 30, 2016

The Rules of Eve Blog Banter Club

There appears to be some longstanding confusions regarding the monthly blog banters. I just wanted to take a few minutes to clear somethings up.

Anyone can suggest a topic.
Let the current custodian know if you have a good idea for a banter. Currently that's me, Drackarn. You can email to my character name at gmail.com, use the IG mail, Twitter, this blog or even find me at Fanfest! I usually take 3 or 4 potential topics and email a couple of other players who are very active "banterers" and see which is the most popular.

Anyone can join any banter.
They are not by invitation, you simply post your own response to the topic. There is a mailing list if you want to know what the question is a few days before the banter goes live but you don't need to be on it to take part. If you see people talking about it and you want to express your opinion then go ahead!

There is no time limit.
If you want to join in the banter a week or two after the start why not! The more the merrier! You'll be added to the main post if you let me know you've posted. Obviously there is greater interest in the week the banter goes live but there is nothing to stop you adding your 2 cents/penneth/euros or whatever currency you use to the topic!

You don't need to follow the title exact.
Its nice if you include Blog Banter or BBnn but call it what you want. In fact its good to go with your own title and make it stand out from the crowd. If everyone calls their post the same thing then its a bit boring.

Tell People You've Contributed
Make sure you post your banter in the comments of the main post on the current custodian's blog so that they can add it to the list of participating blogs.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Blue Flame of Revenge

Friday Fiction! Escape pod here. This could be a long series....


The Blue Flame of Revenge

Luminaire System
5000 years ago.


"Is it a sign?" the small boy asked looking up at the night sky.

The blue disk had appeared in the four days before and had grown larger with each passing night.

"It is my son." the old blacksmith replied also gazing at the translucent disk. In his many years he'd seen many things in the night sky, but nothing like this. A large blue translucent disk that had appeared in the heavens and grown larger by the day.

The planet, which in several millenia would be known as Gallente Prime, was a backward world. Whilst the original colonists from earth had been technologically advanced and arrived in starships, that knowledge had been lost. The collapse of Eve Gate had been catastrophic. The fledgling colonies had been unable to cope without the support from Earth. Most had died out, especially those colonies on worlds still being terraformed. Those that survived on the more stable worlds, like this one, had lost the advanced knowledge over time and reverted to an almost medieval society.

"We should head to the castle with the others. Our Lord will addresses us this night. He'll know what it means."

The man rose from the anvil he was sitting on and picked up one of the oil lamps that hung on one of the smithy's columns. The boy crawled up from the floor and followed his father into the village where the other villagers were all starting to leave for the castle, worried glances cast up high at the blue disk in the night sky. At the back of the group a bard scribbled a new song on a piece of parchment. He was confident their lord would proclaim it a good omen. A blessing that deserved a song.

At the same time, on a nearby planet in the same solar system, two armies clashed on top of a frozen lake. It was late in the day but the blue disk was just visible in the clear sky. Both of the fuedal lords had taken the appearance of the phenomenon as a sign it was time to crush their foes. Tensions had been building between the two for a long time on this island in the southern hemisphere of what would be known in the future as Caldari Prime.

"My lord!" the man in intricate armour entered the tent and bowed.

The man stood over the map table looked up. He was old and his long mustache was grey and hung down in points past his chin.

"What news general?"

"My Lord, you are victorious. As you predicated, the Eye of Heaven smiled upon us this day. We are mopping up the last of the enemy."

The old man allowed a smile to creep over his face.

"Excellent. Go to the scribe. Tell him your story whilst it is still fresh in your mind. Ensure our Captains do the same. This great victory should be recorded for all time along with the others!"

The armoured man bowed again, turned briskly and left the tent.

The leader followed him out, stopping at the tent flap. He looked up at the pale disk in the sky, pulling his cloak around him to keep out the chill as the snow fell. The valley below looked very different now. The snow and ice painted red with death. However the Eye of Heaven had been right, it was the right time to crush his foes.

A few days later the disk started to fade and within a week it had vanished. The event was told around the fires on both planets for decades after. However eventually it was forgotten, the only surviving references contained in a local song and the pages of a military strategy book of an ancient feudal lord on separate planets far apart... for the time.

-o0o-

Interstellar Space
3 Light-Years from Luminaire
Present Day

The red laser slowly cut into the rock. Gian watched from the laboratory console as the sample started to break apart. Chunks of raw veldspar dropped and bounced at the bottom of the sealed chamber. The basketball sized asteroid fragment then shattered and the pieces dropped from the centre of the clear containment cube with a bang.

"Great. More veldspar!" Gian muttered as the console analysed the rock.

She was an astrogeologist in the Duvolle Laboratories Exploration Division. However, she was currently on secondment to Thanan Industries. A private research firm. She'd been given the pitch by her boss. A decade ago deep-space scans had detected gravimetric anomalies in the Crux constellation. Thanan Industries had concluded that this space had probably contained a solar system but no star was visible. It had taken several years for a specially outfitted probe to travel to the area at warp speed. On arrival it had deployed a special beacon that acted as a cynosural field. This allowed their research ship, a modified Nestor equipped with a jump drive, to travel instantaneously to the point deep in interstellar space without taking nearly a decade to travel there. Apparently their main astrogeologist had been killed the week before the scheduled departure in an accident. The Nestor was due to travel and they were desperate for a replacement. Thanan Industries had offered a large sum of money to second Gian for a six month stint. Studying minerals in a system that had never been visited by humans before had been very appealing so Gian had agreed without hesitation despite the fact the vast distance meant she'd be cut off for six months.

They had been there a month now and so far they had found little but debris from some cataclysmic cosmic event. Something had happened to the system's sun. However hard evidence as to what was hard to come by. Her estimates that five thousand years ago there had been an incident, but the chunks of veldspar that the drones were finding were offering no more information than that timeframe and a massive explosion.


A blinking light indicated another sample had been delivered. She pressed a few buttons and the debris in the cutting chamber was swept away. Another chunk of rock was carried into the chamber by robotic arms and she started the laser cutter up again. Slowly bits of veldspar fell away and she consulted the active scanners. Nothing new, veldspar ore that at some point been subjected to a massive blast of heat. She glanced up and did a double take. Something blue was being revealed towards the centre of the rock. She looked at the scanner expecting to see isogen reported however the scanner registered the mineral as 'unknown'. Her curiosity piqued she started adjusting the scanners to concentrate on the strange blue crystal. As the last of the rock fell away the crystal was fully exposed. A smile crept across her face as the scans kept returning the same results. It matched no known substance either naturally occurring or manmade. She might have just made the astrogeological discovery of the century. She quickly logged the find in the system.

Deep inside the ships AI a subroutine woke. It had been waiting for a report that was similar to what Gian had just written. 'Blue crystal. Unknown mineral. Does not match any known materials."

Up on the ships bridge the Captain was reviewing the current drone deployments. They had 10 sample collection drones and eight were in space. One was unloading ore samples for the laboratories and another was in for repairs.

"Sir, we have an anomoly." Ensign Coverie called out.

Glad of the distraction the Captain rose from his chair and walked over to the navigation officers post.

"The Navicom has started calculating a FTL route on its own and the jumpdrive has started to power up."

The Captain looked at the screen and rubbed his chin.

"Shut them down. Find out where the startup commands originated from."

The Ensign's fingers danced over the control console.

"Sir, its not responding to my command codes and there is no authorisation codes attached to the spool-up command."

The Captain moved the Ensign out of the way and entered his own command codes. However the jump drive would not shut down. He looked at the navicom readout. It was certainly calculating a jump but to where? He returned to his chair and activated the internal comms system.

"All crew report to stations. We have lost control of the navigational systems and the AI is jumping us to a destination unknown. I want everyone ready to react to whatever is going on!"

A few seconds later the ship vanished into the artificial wormhole.

-o0o-

Dodixie System
Gallente Federation Space

"Slender pickings." the Amarrian grumbled walking down the line. The slaves stood with their heads bowed, staring at the deck plates. The small lights on the glave collars around their necks blinked various colours. The collars could be used to inflict pain, paralyse or kill at the flick of a switch.

"You want choice go back to Amarr. The slave markets on Oris in Amarr have plenty of choice. You want blackmarket slaves in Gallente space, this is what you get." the fat Gallente man replied. "Most of these here can help crew that bucket of bolts you have flying next to us, so you cannot go wrong if its crew you are after." The fat man stopped beside a young Matari girl "If it's something more entertaining you are after this one should tick all the boxes. Feel that skin, so soft and a steal at only eight large!"

The Amarrian looked at the line. Broken men and women in utter desperation.

"I'll take them all."

"Excellent! Transfer the creds and I'll..." a blaring alarm stopped the fat Gallente man in his tracks.

"What is it?" he yelled into his communicator over the sound of the alarm.

"Its that Hoarder sir! Its locked us up and has us webbed and scrambled. Not only that, its got enough firepower pointed in our direction to vapourise us!" the voice crackled out of the communicator.

The fat man turned to the Amarrian about to ask him what was going on but found himself staring down the barrel of a blaster.

"Order your men to stand down."

The fat man had no wish to fight especially with a gun in his face and ordered his men to stand down.

"You going to steal from me then?" he sighed.

"No. I cannot steal from something you do not own. Your bridge crew should have Federal Navy ships on scan, they'll be taking proceedings from here!"


An hour later Captain Sosa was back in his quarters on the Horder stripping of the Amarrian mask and robes. Slowly the Caldari man under the disguise was revealed. He showered and changed back to his normal clothing. Grabbing a mug of coffee he approached his desk as the communicator chirped. Accepting the call a small holographic figure appeared.

"I hear the Feds are rather happy with the conclusion of that contract!" Mordu stated. The head of the Legion wore an eccentric hat in the shape of a Rokh battleship.

"Yes, one less slaver is always good news, but a slaver operating in high-sec space outside the Amarrian Empire territory is a special catch."

"Good work there. I need to you to swing over to the system of Fricoure, the Duvolle Laboratories station there. They've put in a call. One of their scientists was seconded out to another company. They think they may have been duped and the scientist kidnapped. They want to talk to us about a locate and retrieve contract."

"We're only three jumps from there. Once the Feds are happy with the situation here we'll head over. What do we know?"

"There scientist was supposed to be helping out on a mineral survey for six months in deep space. So deep in fact, communication was impossible, we're talking interstellar here. Yesterday they received a partial message from the scientist. Its too early for them to be back, however the message originated from low-sec space between the State and the Federation. Therefore they think this company may have just kidnapped their scientist. They don't want the Feds involved nor their internal police. Something about results being published soon and no negative press. They want a quiet and low-key investigation by the Legion."

"Sounds ominous. We'll get there as soon as we are finished here."

Mordu nodded, his huge hat looking like it may fall off his head but it stayed put. The hologram vanished.

-o0o-

OMS System
Contested Space

Thanan reviewed the report. The theory had been correct. The project he'd spent over decade of his life working on was nearing fruition.

He looked at the holo-picture on his desk. A tear welled up in his eye. Soon there would be vengence. Soon he would find peace after so many years of pain.

Activating a secure commlink he waited for the recipient to accept the call.

"Sir!"
"Is the ship secure?"
"Yes sir. Its docked and locked down."
"Nobody was able to get a communication out?
"We cannot be 100% certain sir. It took two seconds to lock the ship as it jumped back. Its possible someone sent a message before the ionisation weapon fired. However we knew that was a risk sir."
"We'll just have to hope the jump took them all by surprise. You have the item?"
"Yes sir. Its been transferred from the ship and is in the vault as requested."
"The crew?"
"As per your orders, the scientists have been transferred to holding cells. The others are confined to quarters on the ship."
"Excellent. Wipe the ship's computers and proceed with the next phase."

He disconnected the comm link and walked over to the bar. The bottle of Gallente vodka hovered in the air over a glowing disk. The repulsor field was not just a display device, it also kept the drink at exactly -2C. Thanan took the bottle and poured a healthy measure. Downing the drink in one he felt the alcohol warm his throat. He poured another measure and moved over to the window that looked into space. He'd had this outpost positioned so his office window looked out into deep space, into the Black Rise region and onward towards Caldari space. As he sipped his drink he smiled. Soon it would all be over.


To be continued....