Friday, April 29, 2016

The Passenger

Friday Fiction! Escape pod here!

This story is based on a comment from on a past piece who was hoping the story was going to go in a different direction to the one I took.

The Passenger

For an Amarrian outpost it was quite lively. However this was the far edge of low-sec space, on the border with null-sec where the capsuleers reigned. Tranard sat at the bar sipping his drink. It had been a good run. Venturing out into lowsec was always risky. Pirates, pod jockeys and rogue drones could turn your day bad at any moment. Gallente made consumer electronics and luxury goods were a worthwhile haul in hi-sec, but the value increase many times the further you ventured into low security space. For good reason, at times it appeared everyone out there wanted to blow your ship up. However, with a microwarpdrive and a cloaking device, even an aging hauler like his could still make it through the various gate camps and roaming pirate fleets.

Tranard surveyed the bar. Mostly Amarrians with a scattering of Caldari. As Gallente he stuck out like a sore thumb. Not that it mattered here. This deep into low-sec nobody cared about the Amarr being allied with the Caldari in their war against the Gallente. Most of the patrons this deep in lo-sec would be running from something anyway. He spotted no Matari, which was hardly surprising. The four he had on his crew had stayed on the ship. He'd sent back food, drink and entertainment to compensate them that they'd miss shore leave for the single night they'd be here. However Matari on an Amarr station would cause problems one way or the other. He felt his datapad vibrate. A message from the hanger informing him the cargo had been loaded. One thousand cubic metres of kernite ore. It wouldn't make as much profit as what he'd brought out, but no point in returning to Dodixie with an empty hold when he could make a bit hauling the local ore back to the Federation. That was the excuse if asked. The real reason was that kernite ore was difficult to scan through. Therefore the crate of pre-owned Amarrian-made laser rifles hidden in the middle of all that rock would be difficult to detect. Tranard prefer to stay the right side of the law but times were tough. The dozen rifles would make enough for essential repairs to the ship and the profits from the electronics and luxury goods they had brought here would give the crew a nice bonus. He sent a message to his four crew remaining on the ship to prep and launch once everyone had returned. One more drink and he'd call it a night. He was confident that the skeleton crew could manage the first leg of the trip. He'd need to be awake and sober by the time they reached the border regions but that shouldn't be a problem even if he got wasted now. It would take over 12 hours to clear Amarrian low-sec.

"You going to get me one too?" a voice said behind him as he leaned over the bar trying to attract the barmaid.

He looked behind him. She was stunning. Amarrian with jet black hair and high cheekbones. She looked to be around 20 although the heavy make-up made it difficult to know. She wore a golden silk Amarrian dress that had been altered. Somehow it was modest yet seductive at the same time. The expensive material glimmered in the lights of the bar. He eyed her suspiciously. Too young and too beautiful to be interested in him.

"Oh don't look at me like that Captain, I'm not here to steal your wallet!"

Tranard was suddenly on guard. She knew he was a Captain. Therefore this wasn't a chance encounter. No way she was law enforcement. Too young. In fact too young to be interested in him. He knew he was still fairly attractive and kept himself fit. However no way was this girl, literally half his age, here to pick him up.

"Why did you call me Captain?" he asked.

"Because you are the Captain of the Nereus industrial parked in hangar bay 14? Heading back to the Federation in a few hours? I have my sources." she smiled cheekily. "And I'll take a Osiris Sunrise. Then we can talk!"

Tranard ordered the drinks and passed the orange concoction to the woman who had taken the bar stool next to him. The slit in the side of the dress had fallen away and she displayed a long, shapely leg. She was after something and using all of her womanly charms to get it. Tranard had spent decades in the space-lanes. He knew something was wrong here.

"You got a name?" he asked. "And how you know so much about me?"

"Eva." she replied. "I have a friend in docking control. A very good friend. I asked them to let me know when someone like you was about. I need transportation to the Federation."

"We're full." he replied quickly. InterBus shuttles served this outpost. The way she was dressed in expensive clothing suggested she was not broke. Therefore the only reason to want passage on an aging industrial was if you wanted to leave off the books. The InterBus would leave a paper trail. They wouldn't.

"I'm pretty sure you can squeeze me in somewhere. I mean you have a great body, I'm sure there is space in your bunk for me during the journey back." she said running a hand over his chest.

Tranard paused at that.

"Come on Captain. Lets take a booth and see if we cannot come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. I'd offer you cash but I'm pretty sure I have other assets that you'd enjoy better." she purred leaning forward so that the front of her dress fell open. Tranard kept looking her in the eye. She wanted him to glance down. He needed to stay strong. This was a bad idea.

"No." he replied. He had a bad feeling about it and wanted no part of it.

She simply smiled seductively.

"We'll see Captain. We'll see."


"Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" Tranard thought to himself as his crew carefully navigated the ship towards the huge golden stargate. He's woken up this morning in his bunk. Two things were wrong. Firstly the raging hangover. Secondly, the naked Eva in his bed. Whilst his memory was hazy he still could recall her riding him like he was some prize stallion. He struggled to keep up. What a night, but what had he let himself into.

"Fracking idiot." he muttered to himself.

"Captain?" Amme asked. She was the Tech Officer and in charge of the scanners.

"Nothing. Just rambling to myself." he replied.

"I'd say first signs of going mad, however this run has already been the first sign!" she laughed going back to concentrating on her console.

"Yeah and the second is in my bunk!" he thought to himself.

He never did find out why she wanted anonymous passage back to the Federation. He'd asked but never got an answer. Was she running from an abusive partner? Was she wanted by the Guardian Angels pirate cartel for stealing from them? Was she a covert agent for the Amarrian Government looking to infiltrate the Federation? Whatever the reason he'd need to be careful. She was hiding something and there was the chance it'll bite them in the ass no matter how careful they had been. Everything about her screamed money. Why would she want passage in his dingy cabin when she could be drinking champagne on a first-class ticket.

"3000 metres out sir. Gate is clear Captain."

"Roger. Jump on contact." he commanded.

He couldn't remember getting back to the ship. Apparently he'd stumbled back in with the girl and the crew had launched as per his instructions. It had been 10 hours before he'd woken, they were well on their way now. If it had been a capsuleer ship they'd have been back in the Federation hours ago. However the aging hauler crewed by a skeleton crew meant it was slow going. They also had to stick to low-sec space. Jumping into hi-sec with the navy customs ships guarding the gates would be suicide. Their advanced scanners would identify the hidden crate of weapons in microseconds.

"Capt. I'm getting some reports that the Auga stargate is blockaded. I mean really, really blockaded."

"What?" Tranard asked.

"The local channel is full of talk. Apparently the Imperial Navy has shut it down. They've even fired on some privateers who tried to barge their way through."

"Give it a 'D' scan Amme."

"Shit. Two Archons, three Revelations and a dozen sub-caps including fast-tackle."

The Captain paused. This was the logical route back to Federation space. A couple of Matari systems and then Gallente territory.

"Helm, bounce to planet 5 and plot a safe enroute. Double back and cloak up. We need to find out more before heading on."

The ship swung away from its destination of the outbound stargate and lined up with the planet, 5th from the system's star. The ship juddered as it entered warp. The computer instructed to log the gravitational readings of a point just outside the orbit of the planets furthest moon enroute. As soon as they arrived the ship pulled a hard 180 and warped back the way it came, only for a few seconds this time. As soon as they dropped from warp the cloaking device was activated.

"Right, get on the feeds and see if there is anyone we know in local. Let's find out what the problem is and if it affects us.! We need to know if they are interested in an industrial with a cargo hold full of ore and a crate of contraband rifles!"


The Captain and the bridge officers sat in front of the screen in stunned silence. It had taken all of 30 seconds for them to find the source of the problem. The news report replayed and they sat in silence for the third time as the newscaster read the lead story.

"This is Amarr Certified News with more on today's breaking story. The daughter of the Heir Elect of Royal House Kor-Azor has been kidnapped. Witnesses state she was last seen at an outpost in Amarr held low-sec space. It is believed a Gallente privateer crew is holding her and they are armed and extremely dangerous."

Sideways glances at the Captain let him know they blamed him. Problem was they were right.

"Well... shit." Amme exclaimed.

"Seconded." Linead spoke up.

"Nice one Capt. You just boned a Royal Amarrian!" Coverie laughed drawing scowls from the others.

"With the accession of Empress Her Majesty Catiz Tash-Murkon to the throne and the approaching deaths of the current heirs, Eva Kor-Azor could potentially be a potential heir should there be another succession trial in the future." the newsreader continued.

"Oh it gets better. We've got a fracking potential future Empress of the Amarr Empire on board!"

"Way to go Captain! Empress shagger!" Coverie shouted.

"For fracks sake Coverie. Shut up!" the Captain hissed. "Do you know what this means?"

"Yeah Capt! You the man!"

"No. It means this entire crew is witnesses to events the Amarr Empire will do anything to bury. I do mean anything!"

The crew fell silent realising they were in Amarr space with an entire navy hunting them.


The man hung by his wrists in the dim cargo room whimpering. A side door opened and a short Amarrian stepped through. His black uniform meticulously pressed. Borvah was a high-level aide to Inquisitor Pareh who was standing by the captive appraising the whimpering man. Borvah glanced to the corner where the body of the young woman lay. Arira had been a handmaiden to Eva Kor-Azor. She had told the Inquisitor all of the young nobles sins as guards held growling slaver-hounds mere inches from her cowering body. It didn't matter that she told them everything, she was a witness. After she'd finished the Inquisitor ordered the guards to release the leashes and the dogs had torn her apart.

"You asked for me sir?" he said as he got within a few metres. He tried to not look at the other man. His naked body was a patchwork of horrific wounds from hours of torture.

"Yes Borvah. Our friend here was quite talkative once I had him in the mood. We are looking for a Nereus class industrial. It's likely heading to the Federation and left within the last few hours. Its a non-capsuleer vessel so will be slow. I'm not sure our docking technician here is quite up to using the stations computers so please see what you can find on this ship including its fit. Hurry now, we are too far behind already."

Borvah gave a curt nod and turned quickly striding to the exit. He heard the four quick metallic clinks. The Inquisitor had got his extending sabre out. The begging of the man hung by his wrists would do no good he knew. They had their orders. Before he got to the door he heard the scream he was expecting. Long, drawn out, slow. Borvah was utterly loyal to the Empire but he did not care for the Inquisitors cruel streak. Yes that man had to die, but a blaster to the head, not like this. Same with the young handmaiden. Death, yes, but not like that. Screaming in terror and agony as the hounds tore at her flesh.

He headed to the outpost command centre, the continued screaming silenced by the closing door of the cargo room.

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

BB74 - The Biggest Reveal Was... Nothing.

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 74th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are please visit the Blog Banter page.

The Most Important Reveal at Fanfest Was......
So when this Blog Banter goes live Fanfest will be over. Hungover geeks from around the world will be departing Reykjavik after a five-day binge of important internet spaceships and partying. Whether you were there in person, watched the streams or read the dev blogs on your mobile hidden under your work desk there was probably something in there that gave you a "nerd-boner". What for you personally was the most important thing to come out of Fanfest 2016?

BB74 - The Biggest Reveal Was... Nothing.

As a Low-Sec PvP player I wasn't expecting much. Citadels and capital ships won't feature a huge amount in my game play. Fanfest was fantastic and I was braced for another "Not going to be much for me in the announcements" anyway. OK there were things like Project Nova and the new expansion looks glorious. However I'm talking selfishly here about low-sec and PvP. What's in it for me personally?

*Warning - Full bodied whine post incoming. Grab the cheese!*

There was the Low-Sec/Crimewatch/PvP Round Table that gave me some hope. It shouldn't have been a shock that I was disappointed there too.

The issue was, if you recorded the session and hid which exact Devs were there, it would be very difficult to know which year you were actually watching. The issues and suggested improvements raised by the players were the same, the responses from CCP were the same.

"This is a problem/fix needed/good idea"
"Yes it is. We could take some action on that."

OK, so not every point raised was like that. There were some "nopes" or "that's actually working as intended". For example "Can be build super-caps in low-sec?" However, CCP agreed many of these were issues that should be addressed.

As they did on the exact same issues in 2015 and in 2014 and...

We did get a partial fix to cloaking in FW plex the other year but the farmers just swapped to stabbed Tristans. Many of the other things which were agreed would be a good idea never materialised.

OK we are a minority and cannot expect a huge amount of Dev Time. However it would be nice to get some small improvements. We might be a minority but the largest room set for the roundtables was standing room only for this one.

So the biggest reveal for me at this year's fanfest is I can probably skip the low-sec/PvP roundtable next year. I already can tell you 90% of the points players will raised and the responses they'll get.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fanfest - The "XL" Gallery

Flying back to the Sandbox today after a brief stop in London. What a few days! A collection of my photographs...