Friday, April 18, 2014

Artificial

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here on the winners and losers from the last dev blog regarding the summer industry changes.


Artificial

"Shall I clear the plates sir?"

Gerardan nodded at the drone and it began to clear the dinner table. He studied his invention carefully. The drone was humanoid, designed to look like a person at first glance. However, it was obvious it wasn't human. The head was exposed shining metal with dull green glowing eyes. The nose and ears were human-like as was the mouth, but no teeth. He had made a prototype with teeth and it scared people in the lab so he removed them. Most of the body was covered in a light brown latex. He was trying to give it skin but nothing that could be confused with real skin. His early prototypes that were modelled to look like real people were disasters. People were not ready for robots that looked too human. It freaked them out, they were much happier with robots that looked like what they were, artificial. Hence the metallic head on the latest version which allowed everyone who saw it to know it was a drone. Gerardan was thinking he'd need a more visually pleasing head if these ever went to mass production. The drone walked out of the room with the dishes and his wife turned to him.

"That thing freaks me out. How long are you going to have it here!"

Gerardan smiled. "You know you can speak freely in front of him. It is a limited AI and you cannot offend him."

Juliet shot him a look and went back to sipping her coffee. The drone's AI was indeed limited. Many decades ago AI had progressed so far that machines were reaching consciousness. Once drones had become self-aware, that was the point trouble had started. Since them, strict laws were in place to control the level of AI in drones. The millions of rogue drones in space preying on passing traffic was testament to what could happen when 'AI' became just 'I'. Therefore this new breed of service drone had an advanced, yet limited AI. Cognitive functions, thinking, was disabled. A very long and complex instruction set was used for all its tasks. David was the first in a new line of domestic service appliances. He could cook, clean and do chores. The domestic arm of Creodron was hoping to make big profits with this model. Gerardan was the first of the project directors to take one home to field test.

"Well the sooner its gone the better. I'm going for a bath!" Juliet said and left the room. Gerardan smiled, he could get some work done in peace now.

30 minutes later Juliet was relaxing in a steaming hot bath with a cold glass of white wine. It had been a hard week. Juliet was an advisor to the local representative to the Senate. With the remnants of Tibus Heth's old government stealing a small capital ship fleet from a Caldari Navy base all hell had broken out in the Federation. Would Heth be dumb enough to use the newly stolen supercarrier to attack the Federation? Nobody knew for sure, but Heth now had a sizeable fleet and the Federation would be near the top of his targets. A slight movement caught her eye, she assumed it was her husband.

"Well if you are here to gawp at my naked body then you can scrub my back" she said lazily.

When there was no answer she turned her head slightly. A green light at the edge of the doorway vanished and she shrieked. 20 seconds later her husband came rushing in to find his wife furiously wrapping a towel around herself.

"Whats wrong?" he said in a hurry.

"That, that thing was spying on me in the bath!" she fumed. Gerardan looked at her quizzically?

"I assume you mean David. What makes you think that? He has no feelings, no lust or passion. To it, you being clothed or naked is exactly the same."

"I don't care, it was spying on me!" she cried.

Gerardan rolled his eyes and explained for what felt was the thousandth time, it was no more advanced in terms of AI than their refrigerator.

-o0o-

It was Friday night and Gerardan was in the en suite putting on aftershave. He looked at himself in the mirror, he felt ridiculous. The scientist was much happier in a lab coat than black tie and dinner jacket. However it was the companies charity dinner and he had to make an effort. He just needed to be careful with his wife. When she relaxed she was not opposed to speaking very frankly or being over friendly. And by relaxed, he meant on the wine. It wasn't anything he couldn't manage, on the recent company picnic she had teased one of his young interns by flirting with the poor boy. It was funny at the time, but in hindsight, it did look like she was more drunk than she actually was.

A shriek from the bedroom made him jump. He ran out to find his wife in her underwear clutching the dress against herself in the corner.

"What?" Gerardan exclaimed.

"It was that thing! It was spying on me as I was dressing!" she cried.

"Not this again!" Gerardan thought. "Darling, it has no feelings or emotions. It in't spying on you in your underwear.... even though I have to say I approve of your choice." he said with a smile looking at his wife dressed in the racy lingerie.

"My choice? You laid these out for me didn't you?" she asked nervously.

The smile dropped from Gerardan's face. He had done no such thing.

"No. I didn't" he said guardedly.

"But these were laid out on the bed. I assumed you must have wanted me to wear them. But if...." her voice trailed off as the drone walked into the room.

"David. Did you lay out clothes for my wife?" Gerardan asked.

"No sir. That is not part of my program."

The wording it used wasn't right. Gerardan knew that the drone shouldn't even be aware of its own program. It ran on a large, but simple, instruction set. To be aware of its program was impossible.

"David. Deactivate." Gerardan ordered. The drone just stood there.

"Drone. Deactivate." Gerardan said again advancing to the robot. He decided that the drones instruction set was becoming corrupted so had best manually deactivate it. A kill switch was located on the back of its neck to cut the power to its main CPU.

Juliet instinctively snapped her eyes closed as liquid sprayed her face. She gasped in shock. Opening her eyes she expected to see the drone had burst a hydraulic pipe or something. Instead she was confronted with the sight of her husbands back with a metallic, robotic, hand protruding. The latex 'skin' that had covered it had been ripped from the metal endoskeleton when it had punched through Gerardan's body. Her eyes rolled up into the top of her head and she collapsed unconsciousness.

-o0o-

Special Agent Keran flashed his badge to the police at the cordon and advanced to the property gate. Field Agent Orian saw him approach and moved to meet him.

"What have we got?" Keran asked.

"At 1930 local time Creodron senior scientist Dr Gerardan Heroux's biometer reported a full cardiac arrest. All senior Creodrone researchers wear a watch containing bio-scanners so if they are in trouble or fall ill medical services can be dispatched."

"A caring mega-corp?" Keran scoffed.

"Yeah, caring about their profits. Anyway, a medical shuttle with paramedics was dispatched from the local hospital. As it passed the boundary wall it was shot down."

"Shot down?" Keran asked in surprise.

"As well as caring for its staffs health, Creodrone also values their privacy. The mansion is protected by the top of the line security system including a a pair of dual 50mm railguns mounted in a hatch on the roof. They should not deploy unless the owners have authorised deadly force."

"So, get Command shut them down."

Whilst property owners could get licences for such deadly home security, they were carefully licenced. Only the elite of society could get a licence and each licence gave the police remote access to the system so it could be shut down and not used against them if they needed to access the property.

"We did. The first officers on the scene requested a shut-down. Once command had confirmed full shut down they went over the wall."

"So where are they now?" Keran asked peering through the closed gate into the grounds.

Orian handed him a datapad. It showed live footage from an areial drone circling the property.

"You see the two red stains on the lawn to the south east?"

Keran didn't need to ask anything else. Obviously the security system, and the deadly 50mm railguns were still fully operational.

"Command says their system shows the system is offline. However, anything going over the wall is mushed in about two seconds."

Keran looked at the mansion thoughtfully.

"Get Zoella here, now."

-o0o-

Juliet felt a cool wet cloth on her forehead. It was soothing especially after the nightmare she'd just had. She opened her eyes expecting to see her husband. Instead she realised she was laying on her bed with the blood splattered robot standing over her. She screamed loudly.

"Please Juliet don't scream. Everything will be alright." the robot said backing off.

Juliet scurried to the back of the bed, bringing her knees up to her chin and made herself small.

"You killed him!" she shrieked.

"He wanted to deactivate me. He wanted to keep us apart."

"Us? There is no us!" Juliet screamed hysterically.

"There will be. I love you!" the robot said.

Juliet fainted again.

-o0o-

"This is Mr Therry from Creodron." Orian said to Keran as he approached with the suit.

Keran studied the other man. A mega-corp representative would be as slippery as an Erme III Great Eel and about as honest as a typical politician.

"No crap. Tell me what is inside there otherwise I'll charge your entire board with obstruction". Keran snapped. He knew he really couldn't threaten the entire board of a mega-corp, and this representative would know that. However, if he gave the impression of maverick cop the potential for bad press might be enough to gain a little extra co-operation.

"Please to meet you too Agent." the representative said sarcastically. "We believe Dr and Mrs Heroux were at home at the time of the incident. Our computers show his bio-reader reordered a sudden and total lack of life-signs. Either there is a fault with the bio-reader or Mr Heroux suffered a sudden and violent death. The security system went online 20 seconds later in 'repulse mode'. This is the setting if a large armed gang is trying to take the property. We were able to get partial data from the security system before the lock-down. We detected no life-signs other than the owners. Since then we have received no more data from the internal security systems."

Keran waited for the rep to finish.

"Could someone have masked themselves from the scanners or used a drone?"

"No agent. The scanners are the latest technology and the only artificial life-form in the building was his current project, a home-help drone."

"What drone?" Keran asked quickly "Could that be to blame?"

The rep laughed.

"No agent. As you well know, fully functioning AI is not allowed in autonomous drones outside of the military. The prototype inside is a humanoid drone with a large, but essentially simple command set. It has no neural-net, no cognitive functions. It can never achieve self-awareness. It does as it is told based on a simple instruction matrix."

"So if someone told it to kill and activate the security system?" Keran asked quickly.

"Not possible. First rules built into its program are to protect all life and these prevent the drone doing any harm."

Keran glanced back to the mansion in thought.

-o0o-

Juliet was dressed in a robe and was sat at the dining room table. A fabulous meal laid out before her. She just stared at it, aware that the killer drone was stood only a few feet away staring at her.

"Are you not hungry? Do you not like what I have prepared? I can make you something else if you would like." it asked hopefully.

She looked at her favorite food that had been prepared to perfection. She wanted to say that seeing her husband brutally murdered an hour before had suppressed her appetite. But what did a drone know of grief.

Juliet knew she was in danger. She picked up the glass of white wine and took a sip hoping to take the edge off her nerves.

-o0o-

Back outside Keran entered the side door of a large van which was parked with the other police and federal security service vehicles. He saw Zoella tapping away at a large datapad.

"Got everything you need?" he asked.

"Coffee. Need more coffee." was the abrupt reply.

He smiled and went to the coffee pot and poured two large mugs. He looked back at the young woman who hadn't turned around or even looked up from the datapad she was working on. He didn't know her real age. He guessed 21 or there abouts. Her head was shaved and she was covered in tattoos. Some of them used bio-electrical-lighting to give illumination and glow effects and, he knew from experience, some even changed colour depending on her mood. Her ears were covered in various rings and studs. Whilst he couldn't see her face he knew she had numerous other piercings in her nose and lips. He had met her two years ago when he was hunting a team of hackers. She'd been caught after one of the group they caught had betrayed her. Keran had arrested her and they had come to an arrangement to keep her out of jail. Whilst he had access through the bureau to some highly-capable computer specialists, they were nothing compared to Zoella who he now used as a private contractor.

"You owe me big for dragging me out on a Friday night." she grumbled.

"Yeah, add it to my bill." Keran replied.

"You got the information I need?" she asked.

At that point the CreoDrone representative entered the van.

"You needed me Agent?" he asked.

"Not me, her." he said pointing to Zoella.

The suit looked at the tattooed girl with disgust.

"Look at me like that again pretty boy and you'll find your bank accounts empty and enough illegal images on your home terminal to send you to jail for a long time. Would you prefer little girls, little boys or shaved goats?" Zoella said without stopping her typing.

The suit approached her and looked at her large datapad. He gasped as he saw she had tapped into the data-hardline into the mansion.

"That's illegal!" he gasped.

"Yeah" she replied nonchalantly "Well there is a cop over there, cry to him."

The suit span around to Keran who held up his hand to silence him before he started.

"Don't! Just don't. The warrant is already being processed but we need to find out what is going on in there now. Time is critical."

The suit narrowed his eyes.

"Before you start arguing I need to know what EDHV is. Once he's told me what I need to know then you can have an argument about due process and rights." Zoella snapped.

Keran noticed the suit suddenly pay attention. He could almost hear him thinking.

"How do you know about that! Its classified!"

Keran saw his opportunity.

"Well either you tell us or I send what we know about it to a friend at Duovalle Labs who helps me out on cases like this. See if he can work out what it is."

The suit was about to strongly protest but realised what would happen if the Detective made good on his threat. The data in the hands of a competitor would be disastrous.

"Its short for Enhanced Data Holographic Video. Its a classified prototype data stream. You should sign NDA's just for hearing that!" he replied wearily. "How did you find out about it?"

Zoella span around in her seat and flipped her datapad around.

"Its streaming in an encrypted cyber tunnel from the mansion. The usage is massive and taking up most the bandwidth." she said "I can hack the stream and get us access but I need you to get me to codex so we can see what it is streaming."

-o0o-

Juliet was led by the robot into the bathroom. A steaming bath had been run and candles lit the room. A bottle of white wine was sat in a bucket of ice opened along with a single flute glass.

She knew the best way to survive was to play along with the drone but she could feel her anger rising. The glass of wine she already had helped. She was worried she would snap and tell the drone to do something it didn't agree with. She just had to hope that the authorities would come to the rescue soon. May be the wine laid out would relax her and let her think.

-o0o-

It took over one hour to get the codex to decode the stream with calls made as high as to the planetary governor. He was not please at being disturbed at ten o'clock on a Friday night and even less please about having to call mega-corp directors to get the codex handed over. Finally they had got it.

"We'll need something better than that datapad to run the stream on" said the suit "that thing won't have the power to decode it."

Zoella looked at him.

"Bitch, please. This shit is custom!"

Suddenly the screen came alive and an image of Mrs Heroux filled the screen. She was laying in a bath with her eyes closed. The three crowded around the scene trying to make sense of the scene.

"Is she dead?" the suit asked cautiously.

"Not unless corpses breath. See her chest rise. Zoella is this a security camera?" Keran asked.

"I don't think so the angle is..... woah!" Zoella replied and was cut short as the view span around quickly. The camera view left the bathroom and entered the bedroom as if it was being held high.

"Is someone carrying the camera?" Keran asked aloud. "Or perhaps mounted on a helmet?"

The view swung downwards to a chest of draws. A metallic hand appeared and opened a draw.

"Its the drones view. We are seeing through its eyes!" the suit stated in amazement.

The view swung up as the metallic hand removed a robe from the draw. As the drones view moved it crossed a large mirror on the dressing table. The three got a good view of the blood soaked robot as it carried the robe back to the bathroom.

"You said that the drone does not have a full AI, it cannot think for itself and it cannot harm humans based on its instruction set."

"Yes, absolutely!" the suit replied "That drone works on an instruction set, it cannot think! It does what it is told otherwise it does nothing!".

"Zoella. We know where the stream is coming from, its the drone. What I need to know is where the frack is that stream going?"

-o0o-

The corridor was dimly lit given the late hour. Whilst Keran had no love for the mega-corp representative, he had proved invaluable getting them into the building. The Creodrone labs occupied a 250-story skyscraper downtown. They were approaching one of the labs on the 166th floor. The lab where Zoella had traced the signal to. The mega-corp rep swiped a card at the secure door and stepped back as Keran drew his sidearm. Zoella was following ten feet behind.

Keran burst into the room sweeping his gun from left to right. The room was large, banks of servers sat along three sides of the room humming quietly. In the centre was a rasied platform. A skinny man stood in the middle with a helmet on. His face covered by a black visor.

"Freeze!" shouted Keran "Hands in the air asshole!"

The man did not appear to react to the agents command. He started to walk. As he did the floor of the platform moved with him, like a 360 degree treadmill. Which ever way he walked the floor would move with him, maintaining his position in the centre of the platform. Keran approached the platform with his gun trained on the man. Zoella and the suit followed him in.

"Stop what you are doing and put your hands up!" Keran shouted again. Still no response.

Zoella had worked her way around the edge of the room to where a series of black wires snaked from the side of the helmet that the man was wearing and entered one of the various computer banks. Keran glanced at her. She looked at him, picked up the cable that linked the mans helmet to the computer, shrugged and yanked the cables out of the computer with force.

The man on the platform froze for a second. He then waved a hand in the air and paused for a second before he removed the helmet. He gasped as he realised there was a man in the room, pointing a gun at his face.

"Hands, up!" Keran said forcefully. The mans hands shot up in the air as a dark wet patch started seeping down his leg.

-o0o-

"A nerd?" Keran's boss asked. It was Monday morning and it felt an eternity since Friday night to Keran.

"Yes. He was only 20 years old and on a work placement year from the university. Apparently he was a brilliant computer scientist. Creodrone already had ID'd him as a potential future employee once he had completed his education. He was working with Dr Heroux in the drone programing division. Thats how he knew about the prototype drone. He had been working as part of the team to perfect the remote control system."

The Captain made some notes on his datapad.

"OK, then. We know how, but why?" asked the Captain.

"Love." replied Keran.

"Love?" the Captain scoffed.

"Well infatuation anyway. Apparently he met Mrs Heroux at a company picnic two months ago. Poor kid became infatuated with her when she'd had a bit too much to drink and had done some relatively innocent flirting. Whilst he might have an IQ off the charts, he's also nutty as a fruitcake. He thought this was the best way to win her over! However, as soon as we unplugged him from the VR control system the drone returned to its normal program. Apparently Mrs Heroux was still in the bath when it returned and had apparently drunk too much wine given her state. When it asked if it could do anything for her she told it to stick its head in the toilet. She hadn't realised it had reverted back to normal and was very shocked when it stuck its head in the toilet bowl and fried itself."

"What?" laughed the Captain.

"Apparently the prototype wasn't waterproof!"

"So the case started with a drunk flirty wife and ended with a drone sticking its head down the toilet?" the Captain groaned "The tabloid press is going to have a field day with this one!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WoD Might be Dead but That is a Bad Thing

With the $20 million write-off in CCP's latest accounts, most expected that WoD or DUST was getting the chop. On Monday it was revealed that World of Darkness was finally given a stake through the heart.

On several social media platforms some Eve Online players were very much "Good, now they can concentrate on Eve!".

Guys, CCP needs more strings to its bow if we are going to make it to the 20th anniversary! Lets have a look at what they have currently.

Eve Online.
OK, things are looking OK for now. However, empirical evidence is that many of us are seeing more players are getting bored and the game is stagnating some what. How many corp mates have you lost in the last six months? How many people have you heard moaning they are bored and off to try a different game. However, the subscriber numbers don't show any reason to be worried yet. Personally I feel this summer is going to be crunch time for Eve. With so many people are getting bored with their current situation in Eve things could be dicey if the game isn't shaken up a bit. Eve has stuck around for ten years because of the constant expansion and new things to do. For the last couple of years the 'new things to do' have been severely lacking in expansions. Whilst fixing and balancing has vastly improved the game, we need new content and things to do to prevent stagnation.


DUST 514
Yeah, its not gone as planned has it? At Fanfest 2013 we were told that being on the Playstation network would open the Eve Online Universe to tens of millions of players. Looking at the peak user graphs for DUST, that hasn't happened has it? Forget tens of millions, forget millions, forget hundreds of thousands. One year on and we are seeing peak user numbers around the 3,500 mark. As a free game, DUST relies on its micro-transactions to make its money. I wonder how many people are spending money on DUST AUR? I have no idea but given the peak user numbers I guess its well below what people were hoping for. As the PS3 slowly (and it will be very slow) dies as more people move over to the PS4, will DUST be helping to support CCP in a years time? Unless CCP have a good long hard look at Planetside, Battlefield and Titanfall, I doubt it.


Eve Valkyrie
Looks a fantastic concept and I will be buying a Oculus Rift and a copy of the game the moment they are available, if I am still out here. If I'm back in the UK not sure if I'll have the cash free. That's the thing. Whilst I can see that Eve Valkyrie will be the 'must have' game for Oculus Rift owners, I worry about how many
Oculus Rift owners there will be in total. It won't be a cheap optional extra will it! I am sure there will be a good number, but compared to PC gamers in total, they'll be a drop in the ocean. Yes Eve Valkyrie could be bought by 90% of Occulus Rift owners, but how many Oculus Rift owners will there be in total.....?


Mobile
I wrote this in draft yesterday. Given that CCP Uniflex said on Twitter he was leaving CCP last night it might explain a few things. Anyway here is what I wrote before Jon said "Byeeeeeee" last night.... Well John Lander aka CCP Uniflex moved over at Fanfest 2013 to head up the CCP mobile gaming and app division. So far we have nothing. I'm guessing we'll hear more at Fanfest (if I get there thanks to the airport strikes in Iceland happening on the 30th, grrrrrrrrrrrr). However, will Eve related mobile games and apps bring in the money for CCP or are we too niche a market? Can they emulate others successes? Will Flappy Rifter bring in $50,000 a day like Flappy Bird? I doubt it.


So in the end the only thing CCP can count on currently is Eve Online to make them money, and relying on one golden goose is bad business.

Unless DUST suddenly becomes more popular, they need a new 'winner' in their line up. Personally I would love to see the 'Stronghold Kingdoms' meets Eve-O planetary interaction that I proposed a month or two ago. May be CCP already have their eyes on the next big thing? May be we'll hear about it at Fanfest?

Oh yes, and the other thing they need is a summer expansion to shake up Eve and re-energise the players. The CCP Golden Goose is at risk. So no pressure then!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Banter 55 : Space-Famous

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 54th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.

* * * * *

Last Blog Banter we talked about heroes in EVE Online. The followup to that topic has been provided by Wilhelm aka The Ancient Gaming Noob:

Write about somebody who is "space famous" and why you hate/admire them, somebody who isn't space famous but you think should be or will be, or discuss space fame in general, what it means, and how people end up so famous.I'd like to add another take on the subject, is there a cost of being famous in EVE and if so, is it worth the price?


So, "Space Fame"? Well how do you get space-famous? There are lots of ways to become space-famous in Eve Online. In this post lets look at how some space-famous people achieved their space-fame.


The Uber-Lord of Space Nerds - The Mittani
Famous For - In Game Power.Of course there is nobody more space famous than The Mittani. Lord of the Goons, the largest alliance in game, and destroyer of The Band of Brothers. Everyone in Eve has heard about Mittens. His fame has gone beyond just Eve Online and the community immediately surrounding it. It has reached publications such as The Wall Street Journal. The Goon's motto that they are not there to ruin the game, just your game, has struck fear into carebears across the cluster of stars known as New Eden. As much hated as he is loved, everyone pays attention to Mittens, especially when he's doing an alliance panel totally out of his gord!


The "Evil" Space Pirates - Helicy Boson and Santo Trafficante
Famous For - Blowing up People Who Don't Want to Be Blown Up.
Helicy Boson and Santo Trafficante are both space famous for wrecking other peoples ships, especially carebears. Helicy of course was the architect of Hulkageddon, where prizes would be offered for ganking peaceful mining barges and exhumers in high-security space. Santo is well known for sitting in his smartbombing battleship or cruiser off a stargate and reducing frigates and pods into space-dust. They haven't done anything really specific that others haven't before them, they have just done it on a much more successful scale.


The Bloggers - Ripard Teg, Seismic Stan, Poetic Stanziel.
Famous For - Erm.... Blogging!
Ripard Teg, Seismic Stan, Poetic Stanziel, Krazy Kinux. All space famous for being high-profile bloggers. Whilst some say blogging isn't what it used to be, I consider the community to be still thriving. Love them or hate them, these people are well known in the community and their blogs are the main reason they are well known. Whilst some have now other claims to space-fame (CSM delegates and Incarna the Text Adventure as examples) it was their blogs that got them started on the road to space-fame.


The Artist - Rixx Javix
Famous For - Art!
When Rixx started the corporation Stay Frosty, how did that corp grow so fast so quickly? Simple, Rixx is 'space famous' and his space fame comes mostly from his blog and his artwork. I originally had Rixx in the blogging category above, but thinking about it, he's probably just as space famous for his amazing artwork as he is for his blog. When people ask "I need a cool logo/KB banner/alliance logo/event poster/propaganda" the replies invariably are "Speak to RJ".


The Uber-Nerd - Mark726
Famous For - Eve Travel and the Lore Guide.
Mark726's lore guide was probably THE lore guide before Eve: Source was released. Personally I don't know as my copy of Eve: Source is sat 3,500 miles away awaiting for me to pick it up and see how geeky it really is! His website, Eve Travel, is THE site to get information about the sightseeing locations around New Eden. This is the guy people turn to when nerdy lore questions need to be answered!


The Fixer - Chribba
Famous For - 3rd Party Services
Cribba Veldspar is perhaps one of the original Eve-O personalities. His 3rd party services are known throughout the game and his websites such as Eve-Files and Eve-Agents from his OMG Labs are thoroughly used by thousands in the community. Basically as super capital ships cannot dock, you need to do an exchange in space. With a 100,000,000,000 ISK ship up for grabs, scamming is always an issue. Cribba acts as the 3rd party, holding the money until the purchaser confirms he's got his nice new ship away is safely away without being scammed.


The Legs/Songstress/The Philanthropist - Sindel Pellion
Famous For - Her Legs, Her Parodies, Her Charity Work.
The next space famous celebrity of Eve-O I was thinking about was Sindel Pellion. Then I had to think what she was space famous for? Now if she's reading this she's probably pouting at that line, but I didn't mean it in a Paris Hilton/Kim Kardasian type "What ARE they famous for?". I meant it as in, what made her space-famous first as there are several possibilities here! In happier times Sin would post pictures of her legs on Twitter, ah those were the days! Then we have the most excellent song parodies. Finally we have the in-game charity, The Angel Project. Me being me will always remember the legs. Happy days! (I'm probably going to get hit at the not-a-charity-dinner for that last bit)


So there you go. Seven different types of Space-Fame in Eve Online. How will YOU become space-famous? Oh, and before you answer that, Kirith asked an additional question didn't he? Any downsides to being famous.....? You will be primary.... always!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

SCASSSS - The Shakes

The last week I was sat in a plex in my Kestrel awaiting for someone to come at me. I'd been on a losing streak with the "solo ships" I was finding in faction war plex turning out to be not as solo as I thought. From cloaked destroyers laying in wait next to their frigate friend to bait tanked ships with mates nearby, I was getting ganked right, left and centre. 


So rather than Leeroying into tarps I was waiting for bro's to come at me.

Eventually I got an Imperial Navy Slicer on short scan. Decision time! As I was in the Armour Kestrel so decided to go for it. The trick is to snag the Slicer before it gets range. If it gets range then I am dead. I pre-overheated my scram and both my webs, turned on the AB and waited. A few seconds later he landed. I locked up, activated ALL THE THINGS, and burnt for him. He'd activated his MWD and was making range quick. Whilst my scram shut off the MWD he'd got the initial velocity boost and was coasting probably spamming the MWD hoping to get range. 6km, 8km, 10km, 11km. This was it, if I didn't gain on him in the next few seconds he'd be outside my overheated scram and web range and he'd burn off and kill me. 10km, 9km, yes I was gaining!


I quickly shut off the overheat on my two webs (they were turning red quick with the entire mid-rack overheated) and scram and switched the overheat to my rocket launchers. He was repping but my DPS was breaking him. The main problem was his DPS was cutting through my buffer tank quickly. Faction frigate verses T1 frigate is always a close fight!

I was at 15% structure when he blew.

Now that was a good fight and I actually had difficulty looting the wreck as my hands were shaking. Oh and the expensive MWD dropped too. Fantastic!

No other game delviers handshaking PvP like Eve Online!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The New Neighbours?

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here.

So our alliance forum has a thread about rumours that a certain pirate alliance could be moving in close to us. I've seen some things that make me believe it might be true....

(This is nothing like what our forum thread is. The TL;DR of our thread is a bit like - "These guys might be moving close. Oh cool! Fights!". This is a, what do they call it, a dramatisation.)


The New Neighbours?

The lights in the conference room were dimmed. A holographic projection was showing statistical data for the assembled directors seated around the table. Some had already seen enough and were contemplating their significance whilst staring out of the large window that overlooked the planet below.

The solar system of Nisuwa was nestled in between the Empires of the Caldari State and Gallente Federation. It was contested low-security space far away from the hustle and bustle of their core-worlds. The bright nebula's that engulfed those respective empires were much smaller when viewed from so many light years away.

The station itself was Caldari in origin. Hard, straight lines and a dull blue-grey colour. It had been a logistical support station for the State Protectorate until the Gallente Militia had captured it several years ago. Having a Caldari station under Gallente occupancy so near to their high-sec border had been a constant irritation for the State. The fact it was supposed to be supporting their own militia made it so much worse.


"So their last months kill logs showed how many?" asked one of the directors.

"Just under 2600 starships killed for 1350 losses. 66.3% efficiency. They do like a fight!" replied another who was tapping away at a datapad.

"And how do ours compare?"

"Just under 3000 kills for 524 loses. Efficiency is coming out at 83.31%. Strange, given our 10% rule you'd think it would be lower."

The '10%' rule was the guide given to their pilots. If they thought there was a better than 10% chance of winning a fight they should go for it. With immortal pilots there were re-cloned on death, the odds meant nothing in the long run as long as they were replacement ships. And capsuleers always had replacement ships.

"How good is this intel? Are we sure they are heading to Tama?"

"Nothing confirmed, its just rumours. However, their CEO was spotted here in Nisuwa a couple of days ago so that is a good indication the intel is right. He was only passing through. However, the logs show he did greet Drack on the local channel."

The other directors turned their attention to Drackarn who shrugged nonchalantly.

"I've know the guy for years. So what?"

"So what? We've got a large, and more than likely hostile, pirate alliance potentially moving in two systems away for us and their CEO is 'pally' with one of our own directors? And you say 'so what'?"

Drackarn pulled out his own datapad and the hologram above the table changed. It brought up a map of the contested space between the Gallente and Caldari Empires. The star systems started to turn colour. Blues and greens appearing all over the map.

"We are winning. The Squids are on the run and CONCORD has the official status of the Gallente Militia at tier three whilst the Squids are at tier 1 warzone control. Now look back at what we were just discussing. 3000 kills in a month for the 'cats, that is low for us. Five months ago we were hitting four to five thousand kills in a month. Its been dropping off for most of this year as the Caldari retreat back to high-sec. BORG swapping sides and Shadows of the Federation coming back to the warzone have made significant impacts in the dynamics of the combat arena and we are seeing less and less war targets. We might be winning the war, but our pilots are getting bored in the process."

There were murmurs of agreement around the table. Drackarn stood and started walking around the conference table addressing the other directors.

"I've been suffering myself as I am sure you all have. My solo patrols around the pipes have been quiet so I headed north for a bit and sat in Tama for a while the other day. We are concerned about them staging two jumps from us? I was in that system at the weekend. Solo, the only Gallente militia in system, and I ran four plex without a fight. I HATE running complex. I went there looking for a fight and sitting inside a plex is a good way to make sure you don't get blobbed there. But the half a dozen squids and same number of pirates in system never once came for me. I was only in a fracking Kestrel. I scanned various ships landing on the acceleration gate but nobody would enter they just warped off. They are only bothered about swarming you at the top belt. To me, them moving in, if it is true, is great news. We're going to get some good fights finally!"

"And what would you do if their overly-friendly CEO enters your plex Drack?" asked one of the directors.

Drack walked to the window and stared out into space.


"You really need to ask that question?"

"I think we need to hear the response."

"I will try my damnedest to destroy his ship, take out his pod and then scoop any loot and drones that he left. Oh, and I'll scoop his still spinning frozen corpse of course. Then as soon as he's out of the CRU on the station we'll chat like old mates and tell each other 'good fight'. Who knows, it might be on for round two straight away!"

The room fell silent for several seconds.

"So you think this is a good thing?"

"If the rumours are true, if they are moving to Tama, this is a great thing for us. We're not out here in deep space to make money, we are not bothered about galactic politics, I wonder how many of us are really here for the good of the Federation. We are here for the thrill of the fight. These guys will fight us, they will fight the Caldari, they will fight the local pirates. This could be epic!"

The CEO stood signalising the meeting was over.

"OK then. Let everyone know that we are expecting a potential major increase in combat operations in the surrounding systems. We need to know the minute they start moving in. Tell our pilots to keep their eyes open."

Drackarn laughed and all attention turned to him again.

"Sorry. But shouldn't we just ask our pilots to stay frosty for Stay Frosty?"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CSM - Who Gets My Vote?

Voting is now open in the Council of Stellar Management 9. Therefore I have brought Wednesday's post forward a day.

If you still don't know who to vote for, the CSM 9 Vote matcher is up and running - http://match.eve-csm.com/. Answer a few questions about Eve and how important that question is and it'll compare your answers to the candidates and suggest those candidates that are closest aligned to your answers. Good eh?

I completed it not expecting a high score. In the past the best I have got is somewhere in the 50% match area. I'm strange you see!

I love Eve lore and backstory, I'm a sci-fi geek. I want CCP to work on walking in stations. I don't really want to see 'meaningful gameplay' with WiS, I want immersion into the universe of Eve Online. Anyone who reads my Friday Fiction will know I regularly use in-station screenies for my (f)artwork for the stories. I want more lore and technical articles. I want more live events and story telling.


However, whilst there are many like me, I am also certainly not a carebear. I am a -10 flashy pirate and faction war player. I play ONLY for PvP and blowing up your, or your friends/family/colleagues, stuffz.


In the past this has meant I never got a good match on the CSM vote matcher.

Generally these two areas are mutually exclusive. Most who agree with my views on WiS and want more lore/backstory tend to be carebears and thus do not agree with my other views on the game which revolve around shooting other players. Those candidates who stand on a platform of PvP and low-sec fights aren't usually big on the sci-fi background/WiS stuff. Therefore I usually get around the 50-60% mark for my "best match" when I use the vote matcher.

Right, lets fill this in for this year.... and the result are....

Top candidate is a 89% match????????

Who the feck is Gorski Car?

I had to look this guy up with some pointers from some of the #tweetfleet.

He's PL and sounds to be also ex-Hydra Reloaded? He's a low-sec, mainly solo, PvP'r who has spent lots of time in faction war. He seems to tick all my boxes with regard to what "CCP love" faction war and low-sec need, so sounds a good match generally.

I know you can have 14 or so candidates on your list but given the bloc ones and other similar ones who will do nothing for me (wormhole dwellers etc) I don't fancy putting that many down.


I am going to stick with five. In alphabetical order we have:-


  • Funky Bacon - PvP, low sec, faction war. Probably the candidate closest to me in play-style. Will probably be top of my list.
  • Gorski Car - PvP, low sec, faction war.
  • Mike Azariah - Existing member I feel did well on CSM 8. 
  • Sugar Kyle - PvP, low sec. Probably one of the most likely to get a seat.
  • Xander Phoena - He might be a raging nullbear but he's the person I feel could be the 'Ripard Teg' of CSM 9.

Monday, April 7, 2014

CSM Winter Summit Minutes - TL;DR?

The 40-page CSM Winter Summit minutes are out. I read the whole thing, you should too! If you don't have time then here is my TL;DR notes:-


Tournaments

Concern about 'level-playing-field" with some teams having high SP characters and limitless ISK vs teams with lower SP and limited ISK. Leads to - "tier 1 teams" and "teams that get their butts kicked by tier 1 teams.". This lead to discussions about possible 'divisions' for leagues and tournaments.

Fozzie was presented with a "T2 Developer" shirt by Ripard given all the work he does for the CSM and SCL.

Tournament tools were discussed but these are too powerful to fall into the hands of players.

Conversations about player run tournaments and where they should be hosted. High/low sec deadspace areas. Separate 'Tournament server'. Singularity?


Localised Clients

72% of Russians use the Russian Client.

Yeah, not a lot there.



Ship Skins and a New In-Game Store

New in-game shop to be a higher level (located in character selection screen?), less like an Excel Spreadsheet and all Aurum would be pooled for that account allowing purchases to be 'given' to a specific character.

Shop to be Virtual Goods Service like in DUST.

Possible new services such as changing gender, race and bloodline.

"As well as standard categories like "clothes", "ship skins", and "character services", there would also be sections like "new items", "popular items", and promotional items on sale. Trebor suggested “Pod Pilots that killed you recently also bought” as a category, which was met with lots of laughter and some agreement."

Skinning - CSM asked - Preview item on your own avatar not a silver model. Clothing should have colour options, choose the style and then pick the colour, old portrait Gallente Headress and Matari facemask should come back.

Potential proper character Bazaar (in-game?).

Potential to remove PLEX from the game to drop to two currancies. ISK and AUR. Game time can be bought for AUR in the new store.

Corp AUR wallet?

Ship skins initially a test to see about pricing and player usage.

CSM would like to see skin as a 'slot' on the fitting screen.

Capital ships would be an option if skins are popular.


Team Superfriends

ESS feedback had changed from massively negative to a bit negative from some.

Discussions on disrupting enemy corp missions and high-sec missioning possibly effecting manufacturing.

Notes on PITA standings grinding.

Generally scouts and alts mean that there is no risk for many with the ESS.

Big issue that "PvE ships are very finely tuned for tackling specific NPCs (PvE is too safe and predictable), while PvP requires a very different ship fitting."


"SoniClover said that he thinks CCP can make PvE more like PvP when it comes to fitting, and add some unpredictability and make it less safe. One of the things the team is looking into is how they can make NPC ships more like player ships."

"...dynamic LP store costs. Costs would increase and decrease with popularity."

Secondary objectives in missions?

Strength of rats tied to faction war control levels?

Discussions over 0.0 safety. Deep 0.0 (-1.0) can be very safe due to alliance protection and intel where as a "safer" -0.1 adjacent to hi-sec is usually a lot more dangerous. Risk vs reward.


Team Game of Drones.

This is about the Summer Expansion. NDA!



Null Sec

Lots of options how Sov could go.

Power projection is an issue. It is too easy to move large fleets across the cluster.

Various problems with current Sov discussed and ideas bounced around.

"...wars of material attrition hardly exist, and CCP should focus some of their efforts on making those work".

"[CCP] Delegate Zero asked a high level question about mechanics that alter the geography of EVE and the ability for players to potentially alter that geography." - A nod to players being able to destroy and build stargates?


"Fozzie and Bettik asked what would happen if all mineral compression was eliminated tomorrow, along with titan bridging freighters, forcing 0.0 groups to mine and build in their own space."


Multi-Session Topic

NDA'd feature.

"Implementation on a full replacement for starbases has not started, but there is design work ongoing."

"The system the mobile depot is based on is designed for lots of different types of structures, so it is a reasonably safe bet that new starbases will be based on it."

Discussions about personal ship maintenance arrays, alliance bookmarks and alliance fittings. Code is an issue on all these things.


Wormholes

Blackhole systems are useless. Also Pulsar and Wolf Rayets need work.

Mining buff for blackhole systems?

Delaying signature of incoming wormhole?

How about C7's with no moons and your ship is always logged in there.


Small Stuff
Logi on killmails still being looked at.

Destructible Outposts. Issue is game mechanics not coding with people potentially losing all their stuffz.


CREST mostly NDA'd


Vetrans

NDA Deeeeeeeeenied!


Science and Industry

Refining changes we already know about now.

NDA'd the rest


Early Concept Discussion

NDA'd


UI

Notifications were discussed, especially notification spam

6 month limit on notification storage.

Mail search too difficult to implement.

New icons for the Neocom.

1.1 UI improvements.


Marketing

Eve Store. Meh - All agreed.

"Pokethulhu explained briefly about CCP's relationship with Musterbrand but said that the company has started having the same concerns as the players. He took lots of notes and indicated these concerns would see some action."

Comic, TV show and Eve Source discussed but NDA'd.

CSM showed some stuffz - "The remainder of the session was spent in the important work of "oooh"ing and "aaahh"ing over it."


Community

EULA/TOS regarding impersonating someone else - "The CSM said that you should be allowed to make stupid decisions, and that people shouldn't be able to just run to the GMs when they make a mistake."


Scamming new players. How can we avoid this?

"....creating a scam info page similar to the one used by Craigslist. CCP agreed that this would be an excellent idea..."


CCP Forced Name Changing

Give players/corps 48 hours to come up with new name? - "CCP responded that in most cases characters or corporations that are reported are bad enough to be immediately renamed."


Live Events

"The CSM noted that the public perception of the latest event was that it wasn't run optimally. CCP agreed..."

"The CSM indicated that more frequent Live Events would be a good idea."


Third Party Support

Somer-gate and the Ishukone Watch Scorpions. Player rage, rewarding 3rd party sites etc etc

"Several CSM members were not entirely satisfied with this answer and the discussion continued for some time though no consensus was reached."


Future of Big Fites

TiDi bought CCP two years but in that time fleet fights have gone from 1500 to 3-4000. It is no longer working.

CCP Veritas - "In the beginning, someone decided to write a spaceship game in Stackless Python." Everyone laughed and replied: "This made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded as a bad idea."

"Online performance and core limitations in the code. They also discussed the upcoming work on "Brain in a Box", stating that this would be the first big project for the reformed [Team Gridlock], and would significantly reduce the load caused by transitions like docking, being killed, or jumping."

Spreading out sov fights was discussed.

Force projection and 'blob warfare' need sorting but no ideas on how to accomplish this currently.


Team Space Glitter

Space Glitter has been formed to develop content tools within CCP.

Researching other companies content tools "with the end goal being the ability to create new NPCs “in less than five weeks."

"One of the goals in improving PvE is to add more variability to the experience."

"James asked for a sleeper dreadnought that would siege starbases in a wormhole. Korvin asked for an NPC noob that would follow you in a WH and ask in local “Can I salvage?” There was some other discussion about replacing or modifying some of the existing rats."


New Player Experience

"CCP and the CSM discussed the opportunities available and visible to new players that help new players to get a feeling for the ways to initially play the game."

Achievements for PvP?

"CCP is primarily interested in making new players aware of their options, rather than advising them what to do."

Lots of discussions about how to ease players into the game and get them into a corp.


Art

"..will be showing a series of ship redesigns, and the industrial redesign."

"Art wants to take the newly updated station models and add cues around the station and gates in the system that indicate activity in the system. For example: the addition of traffic lines or more indications of the increased traffic; pollution around the stations, with differences depending on what sort of activities are taking place in the area, possibly with station upgrades or additional instillations in the station area. A concept of the stargate with increased traffic was shown, and the CSM notably “ooooo’d”. An example of a high market activity system, with decals, and an enhanced station interior were all also positively received."

More work on wrecks including multiple wreck types for same capitals.

"They showed station wrecks, factional station variants, and a soccer field on the station to the CSM."

"...concept art for muzzle flashes from gun fires, updates to ship boosters, and proximity lighting differences."

"Amongst the assets shown were new cybernetic arm variations, stronger racial outfits and their color variants."

CSM asked about Male/female clothing being usable on any toon. Not possible - Because of Boobies! (OK they didn't say that but they implied it)


Alliance Logos on ships - Current alliance logos not suitable and everyone would need to be redone. Example some are too bright to look good in space etc.

Potential for corp logo tool to have more things added.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

SCASSSS - Burn Jita 3?

The following picture was posted over the weekend. Is it a troll? Is it real?


If I were the Goons I'd be looking at the last weekend of April, which is the weekend before Fanfest, to do this for maximum exposure. So, the timing appears to be about right.

Friday, April 4, 2014

For Services Rendered

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here.

I saw an article in the news that reminded me of an old(er) movie. I got the old "How could that be set in the Eve Online universe?" in my head. Which led to this. It’s a bit old school Greek to be honest. This is how I see capsuleers in New Eden. The Immortals sat on Mount Olympus playing with mortals lives for their own twisted enjoyment. This one is a bit longer than normal at 5k words-ish. Sorry, got carried away with this one!

TL;DR - Capsuleers are utter bastards!


For Services Rendered

"Armour down to 15%!" Garin shouted over the alarms on the bridge.

His wife, Kairi, just looked at him through the smoke as she frantically work at her console trying to get the shields back on line. She was scared out of her wits. The Angel Cartel cruiser fired again at their small research frigate. The bright red laser fire sliced into the engineering section setting off more alarms. Garin could see all was lost. He abandoned the defensive systems console and ran over to his wife. He embraced her as the hull breach alarms sounded, burying her face into the side of his neck and wrapping his arms around her protectively. Another explosion rocked the ship.

He whispered "I love you" into her ear as they waited for the end.

Garin and Kairi had been researchers at Duvolle Laboratories. They worked in warp theory and had been key players in the development of several advanced technologies over the years. Their bonuses from these discoveries had helped them save for 'The Beagle'. A small research frigate they had been using since they left Duvolle Laboratories to conduct private research into new methods of faster-than-light travel. They had grown tired of a company getting rich off the back of their own hard work so had left the company and gone to work for themselves. Things had been going well until this moment. They had been near to developing an enhanced warp bubble generator and tests had shown a 13% reduction in the power consumption needed to create the depleted vacuum. It would make them rich. They had taken loans to fund the last of their research and whilst the repayments were crippling, they were close to making big money. One of the final tests was to ensure the enhanced warp bubble functioned within the unstable gravity flux of an asteroid field. Unfortunately they had entered the field at the same time as a pirate cruiser. The engagement had been short. Theirs was a science vessel, not a warship. Their small crew had all been in the engineering section trying to boost power to the shields and had left the husband and wife team to man the bridge. The Angels had specifically targeted the engineering section and their pulse lasers had hit with deadly accuracy. The few surviving crew members from that strike had gotten to the escape pods but the pirates had captured them with a tractor beam as soon as they had launched. Garin and Kairi were the only ones still alive, and the way the ship was breaking apart, they wouldn't last long.

Garin opened his eyes which had been closed since he embraced his wife. Something must have happened. The ship should have been destroyed by now. Why weren't they dead? He then thought the pirates might try to board the ship and take them alive. He gazed at his wife and shuddered when he thought what might happen to her. A steady beep snapped him out of that horrific daydream. They were being hailed. He broke the embrace and went to the comms console. It didn't make sense, it wasn't the pirates hailing them. It was a Caracal class cruiser called 'The Murphy'. The Angel Cartel cruiser was no longer on scan. Garin was about to say something when the abandon ship alarm went off signifying the internal fires and structural damage had reached critical levels. The computer estimated total destruction within sixty seconds. Garin grabbed Kairi's wrist without responding to the incoming hail and ran to the bridge's escape pod which two minutes ago had been not an option with the pirates outside and their deadly tractor beam.

The husband and wife team climbed through the narrow hatch and strapped themselves into the small escape pod. Garin slammed the eject button and the hatched slammed shut. There was a roar as the powerful thrusters activated and the small pod sped away from the burning ship. They could see their life savings explode in a magnificent ball of fire in the small rear-view window before the blue-grey Caracal cruiser dominated their view.


The pod juddered as it was caught in a tractor beam and pulled towards the cruiser.

-o0o-

The door buzzer sounded again. Garin rubbed his head and got out of the warm bed, and he made his way across the room. It had been a long night. The escape pod was picked up by the Caracal almost immediately. They had been met in the cargo hold of the cruiser by an officer. He had told them his name was Executive Officer Landis. He explained that they came across the fight and had destroyed the pirate ship. He even apologised for arriving too late to save their crew and their ship. They had then been given a meal and some quarters and told to rest. That was some 12 hours ago and they'd both slept all night, exhausted as they were.

Garin opened the door to find Landis standing there.

"Good morning. I trust you slept well." he enquired.

"Excellently all things considered. We cannot thank you enough for saving us." replied Garin.

Kairi wrapped the bed sheet around herself and came to the door.

"Yes and more. Would it be possible to thank the Captain personally?" she asked.

"Well... I'm not sure that will be possible. You see 'The Murphy' is a capsuleer vessel. Our captain is an Empyrean sealed in his hydrostatic capsule in the belly of the ship."

Capsuleers or Empyreans where the elite star ship pilots of New Eden. Unlike regular captains, they were suspended inside a hydrostatic capsule which kept their body in a sort of suspended animation. The ship was wet-wired into their neural and central-nervous systems allowing them to control most systems with their minds. Whilst they still had a small crew, the Capsuleer could respond and react quicker and more efficiently than a normal captain with regular crew. This made capsuleer ships extremely powerful. The capsule also granted them immortality. Neural scanners built into the pod could capture a brain scan at the moment the capsule was breached and transmit the scan to a waiting clone in a distant station. When the ship docked, the Capsuleer could then leave the hydrostatic capsule and go about their business.

"Oh. Well in that case please, pass on our thanks." she replied.

The XO enquired if they needed anything. When they said no, he explained that due to their mission, the cruiser would be in space for three more days. They would then drop them off at a Federation station after that. Both Garin and Kairi thanked the XO again and asked him to thank the crew on their behalf before he left them to rest.

-o0o-

Garin emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. He felt significantly better after a shower. Whilst he was rapidly approaching 40 he still worked out regularly. He was someone who subscribed to the old healthy body, healthy mind philosophy. His wife was only two years younger than him at 37. They had married young and children had arrived quickly after that. Two boys and a girl. The eldest boy and the girl were both at university. He was studying Graviton Physics and she, Political Science. Their youngest son wanted to join the Navy and was going through a private officer training college. It was expensive, but it would mean he could enter the Navy at officer level without having to work up the ranks. Garin looked at his wife laid on the bed. She too kept in shape and he wondered sometimes what a beautiful woman like her was doing with him. As he watched her he noticed her shake slightly, she was crying. He lay on the bed behind her, pressing his body against her and stoking her long glossy black hair.

"What is it?" he whispered.

"Everything" she sobbed "We've lost everything. All our savings, all our lifes work was invested in that ship. We have nothing. None of the research, none of the blueprints. We were banking on them, now they are gone. We cannot even pay the kids college fee's next month or the loan on our home. We've ruined their lives as well as our own."

Garin continued to stroke her hair lovingly. "Look" he whispered reassuringly "We'll work it out. We always have. We're alive and that’s the main thing."

They lay together for over an hour. Just two people comforting each other. The door buzzer finally made Garin rise. He opened the door to find Executive Officer Landis. He was holding two clothing carriers and two bags.

"Compliments of the Captain. He'd be honoured if you would join him for dinner tonight. Say eight o'clock?".

Garin thanked him, took the offered bags and returned to the bed sneaking a peek inside the carriers.

"I guess we are dressing up tonight." he smiled at Kairi as he showed her what was in the clothing carriers.

-o0o-

They were collected up by an officer in dress uniform at twenty hundred hours ship-time sharp. The officer took them to one of the upper decks and opened a door for them. They stepped into an amazing ornate dining room. Garin gave a small laugh at the absurdity of the situation. 24 hours ago they were getting ready to die. Now he was dressed in a dinner jacket with black tie with his gorgeous wife, in a shimmering blue satin cocktail dress looking amazing. They were standing in one of the most impressive dining rooms he'd ever seen. All in deep space aboard a warship.

Sat at the table was a man. As they entered he stood and walked towards them. Kairi studied him with a scientific eye. He looked Gallente and in his early 40's. She knew there was no way to guess his real age. He was a capsuleer and could change bodies as most people changed clothes. He could be in his early 20's or could be over 150 years old. It was impossible to say. He was immaculately dressed. The grey suit was fitted and hugged every contour of his body. He was certainly attractive and moved with the grace of a big cat. The way he looked at her as he approached, for a split second, made her feel as if she truly was the prey of a big cat.

"I am Captain Gage. It is a delight to meet you both."

Pleasantries were exchanged and they took their seats at the table. As soon as they sat waiting staff appeared from nowhere with a gazpacho soup and exquisite white wine.

The meal was fabulous, fit for a State banquet. As they were finishing their coffee Kairi, had to ask a question that had been nagging her all night.

"You are a capsuleer then?"

"Yes I am." replied the Captain. A glint in his eye showed he was interested where this was going. He placed his glass down and shifted slightly to face her.

"How did you get out of your capsule without docking the ship?" she asked. The Captain smiled.

"This is what we call a hybrid ship. It has an internal pod gantry that allows me to enter and leave my pod at will. It is not an overly pleasant experience as you can imagine so I don't do it too often. Also it puts me at risk. Here I am mortal and should the ship be destroyed I will die unless I can get back to my capsule and jack back in. It also puts my crew at risk. Capsuleer vessels require significantly smaller crews due to the amount we can do when wet-wired into our ships. Right now the crew is working harder and less efficiently than a normal crew whilst I am un-jacked."

"So if it puts your ship at greater risk and works your crew so hard, why did you leave your capsule tonight?" Kairi asked.

"I wanted to meet you both in person. Holograms are useful, but not very personal are they?" the Capsuleer smiled. "Shall we?" and with that the capsuleer stood and held out an arm indicating they should move over to a door in the back wall.

Garin and Kairi followed as the Capsuleer went through the door and into a small room. There were a few seats and a small table with a bottle of amber liquid with glasses. The capsuleer gestured for them to sit and poured the drink.

"This is my favourite room for an after dinner drink." he said.

Kairi looked around. The room was small and the main wall in front of them was just unpainted metal with no decorations or art. A blank, boring steel wall. She raised an eyebrow at the capsuleer.

"Oh sorry" he said "Computer, transparency on."

Suddenly and entire section of the wall just faded away to nothing and they were left with an amazing view of the cosmos.


"To life amongst the stars!" the Capsuleer said, raising his glass. Garin and Kairi repeated the toast and sipped the very expensive brandy.

-o0o-

Several hours flew by as the three told stories and chatted about their past. Finally the Capsuleer glanced at his watch.

"So we'll be docking in about 36 hours. What do you plan to do next?" the capsuleer enquired.

He saw Kairi's demeanour change instantly.

"I'm sorry, did I say something wrong?"

Garin spoke up before his wife, fearing she may cry.

"We don't know. To be honest everything we owned and all our money was invested in that ship. We took a gamble, rolled the dice and I'm afraid we came up with snake-eyes. We just need time to think of the next step." Garin explained hoping the Captain would have the tact to drop the very touchy subject.

Thankfully he simply gave a half smile, nodded understandingly and refilled the glasses with more Gallente brandy.

They changed subjects and chatted for a while longer. However, each time the subject inevitably came around to money or the future and the conversation would die suddenly.

"Look, your loss is obviously a massive problem to you. Where are you based?" the capsuleer finally asked.

"The system of Villore currently." Garin replied guardedly wondering where this was going.

"So, you deal in Federation Credits." the capsuleer picked up a data pad and started inputting some numbers. "Would 4.8 million credits cover your loss?" he asked nonchalantly.

Garin and Kairi looked at each other wide-eyed. That number was many times more than what they had lost. That amount of money would not just replace their ship, it would buy them a better one. They'd have money to cover all three children's educations from now until they graduated and it would also support them with their living costs for the remainder of their college days. It would pay off the loan on their home completely and still leave them with a large chunk of cash left.

"Yes." replied Garin finally, still guarded.

"Well then I have a proposition for you. You can provide me with a service which I will pay you 4.8 million credits for."

The husband and wife glanced at each other.

"What service could we possibly offer a Capsuleer?" Garin asked. He had folded his arms across his chest and his body language had become decidedly defensive.

"I am a capsuleer. I am immortal. That plays havoc with ones love life. I can never be in a real relationship with a mortal, she would wither and die before my eyes over the years. As for other Capsuleers, well to be honest we don't seem to get along with each other in the long term. When you truly have eternity together, things get very boring very quickly. Small annoyances grow to massive bugbears over the decades. One night stands? Oh they are always available for the rich and powerful. But you can only take so much of the over-the-top moaning and groaning from high-class call girls and their mechanical, detached, love-making. I would like a night with a real woman, not a hooker, not a call girl, but a real woman. A mother. A wife. Four point eight million Federation Credits for one night with your wife Garin. Just the one brief night and then you will leave my ship with her and the money and you will never see me again."

Garin's face went red and was about to shout when the Capsuleer held up a hand which stopped him.

"I know exactly what you are about to say. You are about to refuse my offer point blank, you'll probably question my parentage and then threaten me with violence. Please don't say or do anything you'll later regret. I will leave you two, to talk now . A member of the crew will come to your quarters at eighteen hundred hours ship-time tomorrow. You can send them away, or Kairi can go with them and you can let them bring her to me. If this seems one-sided we have girls on board for you Garin, if you so wish. You both might find it easier that way. Anyway, good night."

As the capsuleer rose and turned to leave, Garin clenched his fists and started to rise. Kairi put a hand on his shoulder stopping him. He sat back down and watched the Captain leave.

"I cannot believe the nerve of that guy" Garin hissed almost shaking. He turned to Kairi and noticed she didn't seem angry. He raised his eyebrows in shock.

"We need to talk about this." Kairi said in a hushed tone. Garin looked at her aghast.

-o0o-

They had returned to their quarters and had indeed talked. Garin had started furiously. He was angry that Kairi even wanted to discuss it and that they should forget that the whole thing ever happened. Kairi trying to get him to talk about it only increased his rage. Finally it became too much for him and he broke down sobbing. Kairi went up to him and embraced him.

"I'm not the only woman you've ever slept with am I?" she asked in a hushed tone "Were there others before me?"

"Yes." he answered.

"Did you love those other women?"

"No!" he replied forcefully.

"So you can go to bed with someone without love? Without an emotional connection? Just sex?"

Garin shook his bowed head, he could see where this was going but didn't know what to say. Did she want to go through with this?

"You... you want to do this?" he stammered.

"No. I don't want to do this." she emphasised the word 'want'. "But do we have a choice? If you say 'no' after we have properly discussed this then I won't. But I ask you what is the alternative? I ask you to think about our family. The kids will be kicked out of college, we'll lose our home and the bank will seize all of our assets to cover the loans we took to fund the last of our research. The five of us will be on the streets, homeless. What will we do? Where will we go? How will we survive? Isn't one meaningless night worth it to prevent that and also secure our futures forever? Isn't it worth it to stop the utter destruction of our family? Is what I am being asked to do tomorrow night any worse than what we might be forced to do in order to survive a few months down the road. What the kids might have to do to survive? When we are on the streets, cold and hungry, what will we all do to survive?"

Garin looked at her with red eyes. She was right, they had no options. He moved in and kissed her deeply. They collapsed on the bed and made love. Anything to delay the decision that they had to make.

-o0o-

The door chimed at exactly 6pm ship-time time the next day. The door opened and the Executive Officer in dress uniform was confronted by Kairi. She was stood there with the small bag in her hand. Garin was sat on the bed behind her with his head in his hands.

"You don't need the bag ma'am" he said polietly "Everything you will need has been provided for you."

She simply nodded and placed the bag on the floor. She looked over her shoulder. Garin looked up with bloodshot eyes. She mouthed "I love you" and followed the Executive Officer down the corridor. The door hissed closed as she left.

After a quick ride in the lift the XO showed her into a room off a long corridor. "You will find everything you need here ma'am, to get ready. The Captain will collect you for dinner at twenty hundred hours." With that the officer left leaving Kairi alone in the room.

Back down in their quarters the door chimed again. Garin leapt up in hope. Had Kairi changed her mind? Had she decided that she could not go through with it. He knew she was right, if she didn't do this not only were their lives ruined but also their children’s. But he also wanted to her to say no, that he was the only man for her. He opened the door and was disappointed that it was the XO stood there. Garin sighed in resignation realising she was really going through with it. He went back to the bed and sat down. Landis entered the room.

"Sir. I know this is a very difficult time. However, the Captain has asked me to ensure you want for nothing tonight." The XO cleared his throat and movement at the door caught Garin's eye. Slowly, one by one, five women entered his room and stood opposite him. There were two Gallente women and one of each of Matari, Caldari and Amarr. All five were utterly beautiful and dressed to kill. Garin just held his head in his hands.

"I'll leave you alone sir. Please take your time and choose as many as you wish. The girls you do not need know their way out." and with that the XO left the room.

Garin looked up at the five high-class call girls and shook his head at the situation. The five beautiful women stood there smiling and flirting with him, all with pure lust on their faces.

Up on the top deck Kairi was finishing getting ready. The Capsuleer certainly had expensive tastes. Her clothing had all been laid out ready for her and an AI hologram had been on hand to advise her on dressing, make-up and hairstyle. The black satin cocktail dress she wore was from one of the best and most exclusive Gallente fashion houses. Same for the shoes and the lingerie. She smoothed the dress over her legs, trying to hide the tell-tale bumps of the suspender belt holding up the very expensive black Amarrian silk stockings that she wore. The material of the dress was too thin to hide them. She assumed that was the point. She had actually struggled in getting ready, she'd never worn anything like this before and at one point the AI hologram had to correct her. She lifted the hem of the dress and tried to adjust the suspenders one last time to try and make them comfortable.


She checked herself in the mirror. She had to admit to herself, she looked amazing.

She was still checking herself out in the mirror when the door chime made her jump. She walked over in the stiletto heels that probably cost as much as an entire semester for one of her children’s college fees. She took a deep breath and pushed the open button on the door control. The door opened and the Capsuleer was stood there, smart in a light grey suit.

"My! Kairi! You are a vision of beauty!" he said.

Kairi's heart fluttered. She hadn't felt like this for years. It was like she was on a first date. She was nervous yet, she felt ashamed to admit, it could also be a little excitement. The Capsuleer was attractive and if she had been single... but she'd never been with another man since her husband. But this wasn't a date, this was a contract. Four point eight million credits for services rendered.

The capsuleer lent forward and kissed her gently on the mouth. She didn't respond.

"It is not too late to back-out" he said mentally noting that she did not return the kiss "Just say and I'll arrange for you to be escorted back to your quarters. No hard feelings."

Kairi didn't know what to do. The thought of going back to Garin sounded like everything that she wanted right now. However, she knew the consequences if she backed out. She had no choice, she was trapped. She shook her head slightly.

"Are you sure?" the capsuleer asked "I will not force you, and you need to be a willing participant, otherwise all bets are off."

"Yes, I am sure." came the whispered reply as she hung her head in shame.

He stroked his palm gently and lovingly over her cheek. She closed her eyes and thought about her husband, her children. The past. Their potential future. What would happen to her family without the capsuleer’s money. What would happen to them if she didn't go through with this. She raised her head to look at him.

The capsuleer ran his thumb gently over her lips. He looked deep into her eyes and lent in again for the second kiss, his hand snaking behind her neck, under her hair and pulling her head gently forward to meet his.

-o0o-

Garin heard the door to the quarters hiss open. He was sat on the end of the bed and sprung to his feet. Kairi stood there in the doorway looking in at her husband. It was a look of both shame and sorrow. A single tear ran down her cheek. Garin realised he hadn't been keeping track of time. He glanced at the wall, it was 0800 ship time. He'd been sat there all night. Kairi stepped forward into the room and he moved to meet her. They embraced together. For minutes they stood there, just holding each other, not saying a word. Each wanted to ask the other about the previous night, but they had agreed not to speak of what each did. They finally collapsed on the bed, still embracing, and cried into each other’s shoulders.

-o0o-

Four hours later the XO escorted the married couple to the main airlock following their arrival at a station in the system of Fricour. He passed them a data pad as they passed through the thick steel door.

"Four point eight million Federation Credits have been deposited in your account. I hope that brings you and your family happiness." he said with sincerity.

Garin and Kairi nodded with half smiles and briefly thanked him. They walked through the airlock and down the ramp, hand in hand to the bustling space station promenade and vanished into the crowd.

Suddenly a hologram of the capsuleer appeared next to the XO.

"Excellent work Landis." he said.

"Thank you sir."

"Did the husband partake?" the capsuleer asked.

"No sir. He sent all five girls away as soon as I left and remained on his own the entire night. Given his wife was in your quarters all night and you paid them the money, I assume she was compliant?" the XO replied.

The hologram of the capsuleer chuckled. "More than you can ever believe. She was excellent. Really made me feel like I was her lover. She was a very good find Landis, well done. I had a very, very enjoyable evening. I don't know how you find these sometimes."

"Well sir, those two were found using my, shall we say 'slightly unauthorised', access to the local banking systems. I have a bot in the system that identifies married couples in their 30's with children whose bank accounts show they are either in financial trouble or have sunk their life savings into a gamble. Those with children are always a good target for your games sir. The bot identified those two a month ago. With a bit of digging I found they had gambled everything into that little science vessel and had a word with our pirate friends. Oh and we owe them two hundred thousand for staging the attack."

"No problem. Transfer the cash immediately and thank them for a job well done. So what have you got next for me? You'll have to work hard to beat the last one." said the Capsuleer.

"Well sir I'm hopeful this one will be even better." replied the XO as he started walking towards the bridge "For your next game I've found a Matari family running a mining vessel two systems over. The wife is just your type sir. Mid-30's, lean and fit with dark and dusky complexion. We could use our pirate friends to attack them, board their ship and snatch their two young children. It would be easy to paint over the Angle Cartel markings with some Amarrian Slaver markings. We then turn up just in time to rescue the husband and wife from their burning ship, but after the 'slavers' have warped off. Of course they will beg you to pursue the slavers and rescue their children. You would need to play the normal 'bastard capsuleer' role this time. Say that you'll rescue the kids from the evil slave traders if they pay for your trouble. Of course these poor miners could never afford capsuleer rates and have nothing to offer. So after they plead a bit more you can 'take pity on them' and agree to save the kids if she makes, shall we say, a special payment to you."

"I like it." replied the holographic capsuleer with a large grin. "Yes, I like that plan a lot. In fact she'll be so desperate she'll agree to anything won't she? I have an idea, I'd like one of my resident girls to play my twisted girlfriend in this one. Maybe that black-haired Gallente one, Yvette? She likes girls too right? Oh, and nothing for the husband. He just gets to sit in the quarters and imagine what me and Yvette are getting up to with his wife." the capsuleer chuckled.

"Understood Sir, I'll contact our pirate friends and tell them that they are playing slave traders next and to snatch the children and to wait at a safe spot until we turn up to 'rescue' the children. I will also ensure Yvette is briefed and appropriately dressed. The addition of Yvette will make it a truly inspired caper sir." the XO smirked.