Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Summary of Alliance Movements

Just had to share a great video I was passed by a friend in the intel biz.  It summarizes the give and take of sovereignty in the major alliances over the past three years.  Some of the smaller alliance names are too digitized to read but you'll get an overall impression.  Watch for Goonswarm's later instantaneous switch to IT alliance towards the end.

As it does not properly fit in this column and the fullscreen button may not be visible on your screens, I suggest you double-click the video box to fullscreen it then play.

OOC: Incarna. Yay or nay?

I'll open this with a brief look at how I see things with Incarna playing out, followed by a game mechanic suggestion that I think is pretty interesting.

Allowing people to walk as personal avatars seems like a natural step for Eve.  After all these skills and ships and grinds it would be very refreshing to wander a bar, stroll an on-station arboretum, etc. 

I think the general community concern is that it would draw people away from the space game.  To be realistic, it is unlikely a first version of Incarna will have enough out-of-ship content to keep someone interested throughout the play experience.  There were be social gatherings, the RP'ers will flock there, there may be an in-station manufacturing and sales addition to the market.  There might be simple games of chance.  I imagine there will be the ability to walk in your own docking bay and observe your favorite ship directly.

It will be a fun distraction.  It will be a fad that passes, perhaps a bridge in the mind of the average player between the current state of the game and one supplemented by Dust 514.As a game mechanic,  it is money in the bank, in my opinion.  When a friend recommends a game like Eve to someone who is not a gaming veteran, one question that invariably pops up is whether you can get out of your ship and walk around, and I know a number of people who have avoided Eve for that simple fact: you are a ship, not a person.  With that hurdle covered, it becomes a lot easier to get your friends on board, even if that aspect of the game is a bit lackluster.

The other possibility is that it rocks.  It is THE place to be, some bars become suited to certain types.  An enforced RP might be good, in that certain in-person locations are the only places to reach specific contacts.  And lets not forget the camaraderie of sitting around a long table with all your corpmates.

My Suggestion:

In the Eve novel The Empyrian Age (let's forget that Burning Life ever existed) we find a character who runs multiple clones.  It is a unique ability, not common.  I say incorporate a function like that for Incarna.  Let's face it; most of our time in Eve is spent idle, autopiloting systems, mining, etc.  Yes, some pvpers hop online get right down to it without a moment of attention to spare, but my suggestion is this:

As we fly in our pods controlling our ships on our regular tasks, impart a portion of our conciousness to controling a second clone in the social nexus of our choice, in Incarna mode.  We have a tab like normal menu options that lets us check in on our avatar, read the local convos, order a drink as that last bit of mineral is loaded.  It wouldn't be uncommon for a conversation to be cut short as the clone's counterpart's ship is attacked.  Consciousness is shifted fully back to the pilot instead of continuing divided in half.  The social aspect would be in a resizeable window that you can pin in a corner or make semi-transparent so you don't get distracted from that probing enemy in 0.0.

I see how this flies in the face of established cannon, but its a game mechanic that would keep every ship in the sky while also opening a new comm channel of sorts for the lonely pilots in their mining belts, a way to remind themselves that there are other people out there.

Running two clones?  Crazy, I know, but from an 'everybody wins' standpoint it's not half bad.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The highpoint so far of life in New Eden

New intel on my brother!  Someone took the 10 million isk form me in exchange for some intel that could be quite damaging.  I'll get into that next time.  Before more time passes I want to detail something massively epic that transpired into this multilayered, galaxy-spanning conflict.

When the Sansha descended in triplicate on Antem, Anyed and Imya, they installed their dark uplinks amid a mass of bad intel and confusion they intentionally stirred up amongst the defending capsuleers.  We routed their defenses but the deed was done, for whatever it would mean.

As the debris was salvaged and wreckage cleared, a few AU’s off the main Antem station, the wormhole the Sansha had burst from in the previous invasion, oddly, remained open after they were pushed back through.  This was an anomaly.  In previous invasions the wormhole had been collapsed during the engagement by our ECM-projecting eWar ships.  Those gravimetric pulses seemed to destabilize Sansha wormholes, a tactic proven reliable by a score of incursions.

In the heat of battle, in the clearing of debris, it remained a cold staring eye surveying the disaster it had wrought.  People forgot about it after a day or so, or perhaps assumed it was under control, covered off by the leaders of the defense.

A covert ops pilot affiliated with anti-Sansha forces was cruising Monalaz on patrol.  Not me; at this point in time I was 3 jumps inbound for the mythic Eve Gate system not far off, on official reconnaissance of the ancient Jovian portal.  Piloting my trusty Purifier Covert Ops ship, I angled toward Antem and accelerated.

The patrolling pilot came upon the still-open portal left by the Sansha and radioed CONCORD representative Haeldone Dorgiers.  He later said “Understandably, they were still in the stages of reinforcing planetary defenses, and the anomaly had slipped by scanners.”  Dorgiers, in the area coordinating said defenses for future invasions, detoured to confirm.  His ship came in at 30k and did a quick conformational orbit before transmitting the presence of the hole to the four major empires.  Federation assets were a few jumps away and immediately diverted.

SYNEPublic is the predominant comm. Channel for updates on the Sansha threat, followed now by nearly 700 pilots.  It was there that Dorgiers, watching the menacing tear in spacetime off his bow, made a proposal; yes, gravimetric waves, over time, could collapse their entry holes, but here was a rare opportunity to try a new theory: blowing it up.

21:37, Agent Dorgiers briefed local squadrons from both the Federation and Amarr navies on the situation. He relayed a plan already set in motion days before with Cpt. Malarthi, explaining that he been provided with a customized Obelisk freighter by CONCORD agents. The freighter was manned by a suite of CreoDron drones that would both crew the vessel and monitor every piece of data possible at the time of hull breach. The rest of the interior was packed with a number of explosive materials. The detonation of the vessel near the wormhole was hoped to create some kind of abnormal behavior, and better yet, breach the wormhole itself, perhaps shedding new light on one of the Nation’s most troubling of tactical advantages.

The Obelisk was inbound, lined with explosives, most notably a massive hydrogen bomb.  But it was slow. 1 jump after another fell away as it neared.  Meanwhile at the wormhole, system interference was escalating madly.  From the viewports of the scattering of anti-Sansha forces and Federation vessels arrayed about the portal, the wormhole began to shake.  Comm frequencies blared the static of an incoming force, as my Purifier finally warped in at 100k cloaked, ready to act.  Waves of energy were radiating outward in visible waves as the wormhole distorted in advance of spitting out the dread army of ships we had learned to fear.  The force we had there was no match for a fleet of Nightmare Battleships.  I was trying to keep it together, and if all went well upon my death a clone would be waiting, but there were always errors.  It was also possible my Brother was up to his old tricks, perhaps another virus run through my backups to make them useless.  Behind the pulsing, dilating wormhole was black, cold night in a constellation of few stars. I knobbed down the volume on the panicky voices to align my own thoughts to the nearest gate.  If things got too hairy I would autopilot out, but I would not be the first to run.

The FNS Laeres, a massive CONCORD carrier arrived in adjacent system Imya  and Dorgiers rendezvoused and took control to help repel the inevitable attack; even that would be far from enough.  Counterbalancing this backup, numerous commercial and independent ships became pouring out of Antem for safety, with a general rally point in Yulai where heavy defenses were already in place.  Most of the ships at the wormhole were now rocketing toward the Imya gate to rally with the carrier and to meet the inbound Obelisk carrier, the bomb piloted by Malarthi.  Beams and flashes of blue light began to erupt sporadically from the hole; I’d arrived to fight these invasions in progress before, never had I had the singularly frightful experience of this calm before the storm.  It seemed only seconds now.   I stood my ground, figuring a cloaked recording of the events would be as handy as throwing my paper-thin hull in front of their cannons.

The Sansha Battleships erupted into the system before me.  Blacker than the night around them, but for only a moment before their laser cannons fired up and began to tear apart the meager resistance.  In the first 20 seconds several powerful anti-Sansha vessels were crushed, it was like an ever-expanding sphere of destruction as they fanned outward, their range ever increasing.  Klaxons sounded as the extreme outer edge of their targeting capabilities rolled toward my invisible bow at 67m/s.  I now aligned for the Imya gate as the scene came apart.  There were only three major ships in defense and they were losing their armor fast.  Without proper reinforcements within 8 jumps, there would be an opportunity for this Sansha Vanguard to sweep millions of men, women and children off the local planets.  Antem 4 was already barren of life after four previous invasions in the system, but more damage could be done.

Malarthi in his explosive, bloated Obelisk cam blasting out of his warp tunnel as all seemed lost.  In a ring about him were what Federation, CONCORD and capsuleer pilots they were able to rally.  A cluster of frigates broke formation to occupy the Battleships’ slow-tracking laser cannons.  The Obelisk, equipped only with heavy armor and massive propulsion, began a slow left roll as it closed the distance to the wormhole.  More Sansha appeared; perhaps they were only now understanding the danger.  I unaligned and aimed my thrusters toward the hole, still unseen.  It could be that at a critical moment I could be of use.  Despite the fear, the pressure, what I was seeing was a dazzling display, a box of black space lit like a torch by fat beams of yellow light threading the scene, black, barely-discerned hulks of evil drifting ever-outward, a dark menacing globe that was one-by-one swallowing the faint blips of resistence.  And now above and to the right the gleaming gold bulk of the Obelisk with it’s escorts a flitting defense, with the CONCORD carrier just behind.  Before my eyes dark and gold collided.  Despite it’s size the Obelisk force was occluded by the Nightmares, while my tiny ship scootered inward.

It all happened quickly.  The Nightmares focused fire on the Obelisk.  The carrier barreled onward.  It collided head-on with a pair of enemy Battleships, crushing their noses and pushing them sidelong, a great gold linebacker.  It plowed through the Sansha furball, banging off hulls and being gouted by cannons.  Around it the escorts blew apart under fire from another 15 Nightmares who suddenly emerged from the wormhole.  The CONCORD Carrier was beign crippled;  soon it would fall away as well.

Here was courage.  Here was desperate, mad determination.  Here was fear, ignored.  I saw heroes that day, and they did not scream as they died.  More and more Sansha spilled through, the spiny hulls like a swarm now.  It seconds their larger ships would begin to siphon off into the rest of the system to tear apart families, to drag children kicking and screaming to doom.

There was a shout on comms that drew me off my reverie.  It was happening.  Nightmares aligned either on a collision to the Obelisk, now 5k off the hole, now 4k, or on a line to escape the blast.  Rumors later came of Sansha ships actually turning back through the portal in the seconds before ignition.

Coils of coruscating energy began lancing like lightning along the hull of the Obelisk.  Caps and fuses blew out along it’s bulk, and a white glow began to burn deep inside, so insanely bright that it began to shine through 100 feet of Tungsten armor.  It became a torch in itself.  White light filled the universe before sucking inward for a final burst.  I overheated my engines with a thought and fired up my microwarpdrive, beginning to blast straight away from the engagement.  I had seconds now, and having ensured the Obelisk reached the event horizon before exploding, it was time to salvage what I could.  My engines might just get me to a safe range before-

There was a final cry of triumph from pilot Malarthi.  The system flared, flared, ignited.  A fireball formed in an instant at the event horizon of the wormhole and expanded at the speed of light, flash-frying everything within 15 kilometers and spreading devastation beyond that.  In the corona, the Sansha wormhole, at that very moment spitting out another cluster of Nightmares, wavered like desert sand before blowing away, the fabric of the portal singed then incinerated by the supermassive heat.  The shockwave rocked my ship;  I saw only white.  Even routed through the screens and filters, the instant flash had burned out my vision.  I rocked one way awash in the creaks of tearing metal.  What must have been a second, stronger shockwave emitted a tenth of a second later buffeted me the other direction.  In the next moment my hull blasted in all directions with a sound like a thunderclap.  I prayed for her to hold together, and held my breath.

I woke up in a pod.  A medical pod.  I was in Pelisle, Moira.’s home base.  It took another two hours to shake myself to full conciousness, allowing the recent memory of heat death to slough off my mind like a black oil slick.  The first thing I did was to contact Moira. command to inquire about what happened.  For the first time in New Eden history, a bomb had closed a wormhole.  Every Sansha ship and every other ship in the vicinity had been erased.  Battleships halfway through the hull were cracked in half.  The very heat had dissolved even the wreckage and flesh.  Where once was a heated conflagration, now there was once again emptiness. 

Many pilots lost their lives that day, many crew, but every life came to mean something, for without every ounce of resource and ability that was applied there, they might have been a few seconds later, and that’s all that was need for the Obelisk to be disabled before it reached its ignition point.  With perhaps my exception, everyone who acted that day had an affect on the universe as a whole.  These are exciting times.

Sansha Update

I felt it was smart to position myself in the loci of galactic conflict that is the Sansha Incursions.  While a part of me fights the good fight to defend our way of life, flawed as it is, another does so for the purpose of keeping eyes, ears and sensors open for my old nemesis, he who took my fortune.   SYNE, FCORD, Moira., these organizations were at the vanguard of the universal defense.  I had delayed this post as I wanted it to encompass all that has happened in the war, but it has become impossible.  Every time I start an entry I’m called away by some new action, and so I’ll summarize as best I can.

Sansha keeps opening wormholes in hisec and lowsec settled systems and taking whole planetary populations for slavery.  For awhile this was all they did, but new tactics have come to light, many of which might be disinformation.

  • There is a possible collusion between Concord and Sansha leadership.  Concord continuously fails to respond to incursions with force.
  • There is a possible collusion between Justicars and Sansha.  Justicars are an Amarrian defence force primarily consisting of Retrievers; hacked correspondence seems to say that they are either compromised now but not for long, or are uncompromised now but not for long.
  • A Federation Nyx entered restricted space during an incursion supposedly to assist and coordinate, however some evidence points to collusion with the Sansha, or, more likely, use of the incursion to mask anti-Amarrian actions.
  • There have been retrieval missions the Sansha stage that do nto include slaves.  They have entered systems to distract as they retain some valuable item from a hidden cargo freighter.  In one case the retrieved item seems to be a temporal device.  Another involved a special substance used to power a teleportation device.
  • The Sansha incursion locales may have a recognizable pattern.  They generally avoid Gallente space.
  • The Sansha are preparing a major operation in Monalaz.  They have recently hit 4 systems in that constellation in an op to generate uplinks of a mysterious nature.  Our good leader, Julianus Soter, feels that these hidden uplinks will somehow manipulate basic system processes like target recognition, the barring or allowing of cyno entries, and a number of other vital faculties.  
  • News reports from a planet which was cleaned out and completely sapped read that independent ships were fighting an orbital force as it worked to evacuate them with a vast number of dropships.  We know that the dropships were in fact Sansha ships taking them to slavery, that the independent ships were capsuleers fighting to protect the people.  One line of code from hacked transmissions re: the uplink detail that the media resources are being hacked; it is our prediction that the Sansha wormhole into a system, hack the media, use it to transmit that their ships are escape ships, then scoop them up and leave.  Dastardly.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kih - Sansha inbound!

Kih system (short form) was attacked last night.  The situation is that a handful of Sansha aligned Corporations have been wardecced by Moira. and they are a new factor to consider in any invasion.  Today I learned that the Sansha were handily defeated, but thats not where my story that night lies.

After the Battle of the uplink in the trio systems in Genesis, I had a pair of ships to move back to our base in Pelisle, off the Stacmon bottleneck, 15 jumps.  I scouted a few systems ahead in my trusty Purifier before hopping in my Harbinger, survivor of the uplink battles, to bring her home.  Upon launching a Sansha capsuleer warped in to the lone Imya station and targetted me.  I assume his warp scrambler initiated in the second after I laid out my warp tunnel.  I was off.

Another close call in Gergish where I neede to pickup my ammo stockpile left in case of need for the uplink battles.  My single warp stabilizer saved the day.

The call went out through SYNE and FCORD that an attack was underway in hisec.  Picture it like an equilateral triangle (a triangle that is equal lengths on all three sides).  One point was my origin, Imya, the point up to the left was Pelisle, and the point up to the right was the incursion system, KihX.  I knew I needed to rest and refuel and wouldn't make it to the incursion, but in the end I played a role.

It seems that enemies of Moira., more Sansha-aligned pilots had been conducting mass reconaissance on our home system when the true Sansha, came.  Now they were blitzing to the scene.  As I neared Pel, a steady stream began to cross my path.

A Dominix was the first, we ran into each other at a hisec gate.  I targetted and set to orbit at a good distance but he was aligning so I MWD-burned toward him to warp scramble.  I had no backup, his ship was bigger than mine, but my mind worked by instinct to roll the dice.  We tangled once I shut down his warp drive, and because of my optimal distance I punched through shields and half armor before my shields went down (armor-tanked).  I assume they were strung in a line of several systems in the mad dash, because first one, then three of his friends popped through the gate.  I had to disengage and did so just in time as I was ttargetted by the newcomers.  In warp I transmitted the intel to Soter, who was leading Moira. forces 20 jumps to the invasion point.  "Soter, I need to dock but you have a handful of Sansha-aligned en route to the incursion, be careful."

My Battlecruiser shook through a fast-warp and barelled non-stop through the next gate to home.  One of them chased me for a couple of systems before I made a detour and eluded.

Soter led forces alongside many others and the Sansha were defeated in short order.

PL.  Pandemic Legion.  One fact I didn't note in the uplink battles was that PL deigned to assist.  It was an hour into the engagements, but they came with a thunder and snow-plowed all resistence.  Soem view them as apathetic to the incursions but this proved them wrong.  It was an exciting development and their influx of vast vessels matched the multifariously assembled capsuleer fleet ship for ship.

If nothing else, the Sansha has made neutrals friends for the purposes of defending the universe, has made enemies neutrals.  We are all human. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Operational Failure

We knew it was coming.  Three systems, Anyed, Imya and Antem to be attacked by separate forces in advance of a final invasion down the road.  It was our chance to grind the Sansha plans to a halt.  Pressures were high, nowhere more so than in the ranks of Moira./SYNE,  particularly on the shoulders of one man: Julianus Soter.

To complicate matters, there were new players on the field.  Our alliances had recognized a war with a trio of Sansha-aligned capsuleers who were guaranteed to be on the field to slow or stop any special initiatives he might put into play to counteract the invasion.

Soter was taking no chances.  While the rest of the galaxy converged on those hisec systems to make their stands, Moira. would form a special taskforce working behind the scenes to shred capsuleer resistance.   

We aligned, approx. 10 Battleships, a handful of Battlecruisers, a spread of Assault Frigates, led by Soter’s menacing Dominix.

What followed was a series of mad dashes.  Intel sighted capsuleer war targets mixed in with the invasions, sometimes at a distance.  It seemed they were popping up everywhere, and it was hard to stay focused on these diffused combatants when the screams of millions echoed over comms, as millions of souls were harvested off the surface of their planet.  But we had our job, and it was an important one; the new enemies affiliated with the Sansha  had the capacity to wait for the most critical point and ruin our logistics, to launch against the many fleets’ weak points and break the back of the defenders.

I had rented a pulse Harbinger BC for the operation.  Throughout the warps, gatejumps and held positions I made an effort to fly in synch with a Corpmate flying the same.  Our twin Harbingers remained above Anyed’s lone station while the rest of the (PVP) taskforce plunged back into Imya.  War targets had been constantly chased off and provided  far less resistance than expected, and so Soter was leading the others into the main Sansha invasion, warping his comrades to a dangerous proximity of a Sansha supercarrier and beginning to join otyher capsuleers in pounding away.   Meanwhile our Harbs orbited the roof of the space station, scanning downward and outward for any sign of a war target.  I felt better that the main taskforce was back to focusing on the invasion itself, but a little nervous floating above that massive station with two systems under our responsibility while Soter was busy.

We had received warnings of a Sansha affiliated warship in the vicinity of this station, and one of our pilots had almost gotten close enough for a lock before it escaped.  Others had been spotted but that mighty Amarr vessel had stayed off-grid.

Minutes passed.  Updates streamed in.  The Sansha commanders appeared to be spending 15 minutes in a system before moving into wormhole space and appearing in the next area.  They were bouncing, moving, confusing us.  One wormhole opened in the dark and spat out a single frigate.  In another case three holes opened and closed just as quickly , taking their flash-force with them,.  It was a mess.  Later there would be overwrought claims that Soter focused too  strongly in space operations, neglecting the ground game.  As confusion prevailed above, thousands of troops landed, and while some herded innocents into the black holds of their dropships, others set to work constructing various mysterious uplinks, apparently the real goal of their actions this day.  In the end, all three uplinks would succeed, and we would fail.  Lives were taken, lives were kidnapped, ships destroyed, ships chased off;  The Sansha did us rough.  They had their way with us, and they didn’t use protection.  Yes we forced their carriers and commanders back through the jagged holes in space through which they’d come, however their mission was accomplished.

But for now the fight still raged, and as I was distracted listening to how things were shaking out systems away, I was a second late noticing the Armageddon war target undock from the station.

In tainted gold, the massive tubular deathstick pulled a slow rotation as it gained height above the busy station.  My twin Harb began to acquire lock as the Battleship locked us down, mine coming in precious seconds later.  She raised her head like a dragon and I was acutely aware of my lack of support.

The other Harbinger blasted a red klaxon and began a focused starboard arc to bring her about on the Geddon,  My own Battlecruiser ignited the microwarp drive and launched itself forward, angling between two arms of the station and out of the metal latticework, ready to flip nose up and over to reapproach in a barrel-roll to right myself.  Between the two of us we locked, scrambled and webbed the big ship, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t stomp us.  As I aligned on his broad left flank and punched the Fire All Weapons command, is shields wavered then reinforced under the barrage.  Thick pulse lasers lanced from the far side as my companion made a straffing run.  Ever so slowly the Geddon’s massive  megapulse lasers ground into position to fire into our hulls.

We tangled, and I again held my breath.  The Geddon, not yet having fired locked down my companion's maneuverability and weapon tracking, and, inhibited, he executed a slow spiral away from the station to exceed the Geddon's mod range.  With the vessel attacking my corpmate I ovverheated mods and blasted away with everything I had.  I even launched some core probes at the bow to help chip down the armor, ejected my garbage chutes to confuse his sensors, launched all my drones, but it was hopeless.  This beast waited until we were alone and pounced and we were not ready. 

It was then that the rest of the Taskforce rejoined us, having literally forced the supercarrier in Anyed back out of normal space.  In a rapidfire chain they landed out of their warp tunnels directly above the Sansha-aligned Battleship and battered him down until he managed to reinitiate dock and pull his bbeaten husk inside the safety of the public station.

From there we had a handful mroe engagements but as the Sansha trickled away and the dust settled, we knew that we had failed fundamentally to protect the universe we loved.  Something had been lost this day, and I shuddered to think of what time would reveal thatto be.

Next post, back to basics.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Incursion: Glory

Serren is quiet, backwater.  People who pass through there are on their way to somewhere else.  Afterburners blueprints are purchased, afterburner modules are sold.  Organic farming bands about the continents.

Planet III boasted the center of culture for the Serren system, and that was where the Sansha came.  The crater in normal space burst in the galactic evening, ejecting countless Battleships with their spiked frigate escorts, teeming with warp inhibitors to lame any defendor who stands against them.

The call went out -confirmed?- -standby- Then MajorJSilva, a major player in the war broadcast the truthiness of the incursion, and from all parts of the known galaxy capsuleers began cascading inward.  SYNE, Moira., FCord, all divisions aligned and burned, fleets merging and redistributing as they converged.

Seeing my ship via sensor inputs, I scanned inside and out.  I saw nervous crewmen on the bridge in the minutes leading up to our arrival in Serren, a system in our forward view now rocking with war, with mindless machines grinding humans to dust, containing the nightmare of boogeymen who come in the night and take your kids, to the spectre of death, apathetic and random.

"Entering Serren"   "Warping to Planet III"   "Engaging"

Before me was a massive black fleet, toward the planet on my left I saw the flecks of light that were their nefarious dropships, landing to scoop.  A gargantuan carrier, Citizen Ashtur of the Sansha in command, bulked in the center of the violent fury.  A trio of Sansha Battleships burst as a squad of capsuleer Drakes  concentrated fire.  Three other clusters of snipers rained artillery fire on the stolid shields of their command vessels.

I had come in a rush, hastily equiping a lightning-fast Punisher frigate and bringing her to bear.  My dual light lasers lanced out at Sansha frigates.  I was learning with each engagement, and by now I knew that the warp-scrambling frigates of the Nation needed to be the first to go.  A similar command went out on comms in our fleet now bursting at the seams.  I helped to down a score of frigates.  Battleships tangled, eWar trnasmitted both ways.  In Local we caught a secure transmission:

"Dropships 1-200 returning.  34% capacity"  Other transmissions indicated 230,000 souls taken, though I missed that one.

It was only seconds later that 200 fireblooms spotted the nearest continents as their kidnapped cargo reached for space.  A horde of drones spun about Citizen Ashtur after her command, while a separate flurry swarmed the upcoming dropships.  A handful were disabled, some fell to earth and caused more damage, a chosen few were able to be webbed then tractored off, the poor souls inside recovered.  Through it all the Carrier and Battleships rained fire, and about me comrades tore asunder while holding the line, while reinforcements rushed gates.

A new squad of stealth bombers led by MajorJSilva uncloaked then, taking the Sansha by surprise and dropping a series of bombs along their line. The dreaded Sansha Nightmares were, on purpose, direct in the path, and several ended up burning in space, a pair colliding without navigation and lighting up the area with incinerated devastation.

I pointed my frigate at the heart of the invasion, Ashtur's massive vessel, chossing a tight 3200 orbit under microwarpdrive as I blasted dual light lasers against it's flaring shields.  Other ships joined in, and again the command went out: KILL IT!

Meanwhile a cluster of eWar ships had moved into position about the 3 wormholes, decloaking to blast gravimetric pulses into their funnels.  While the science did its work to destabilize their precious links to home, many more capsuleers collapsed under the heavy Sansha fire.

In time those reinforcements arrived.  Most of the ascending dropships reached their destination, and it was anguish to watch them tumble through the hole that was locked to us, each vessel a myriad of unique individuals who were about to have their uniqueness literally deleted.

Ashtur, 34% triumphant, angled toward the portal home as the last handful of her defendors either ran or fell.  Now it was she alone, burning for the wormhole, comprimised.  A universe of pilots focused fire, and very slowly her tank began to lessen.

Running calculations on the fly I saw her ship was only 7k from her wormhole.  Orbitting so closely I was the nearest pilot.  There were seconds remaining before we lost him, and I broke off and flew a wide arc off right and came back in behind, reactivating my microwarp drive on a collision course.   I hoped to bump him off the wormhole, saving us some seconds, but he vanished through the wormhole before I could make a difference.

The computer chimed 3k....1k...40m...2m...and I flew through empty space as her entire vessel warped into itself and vanished through the wormhole.  For weeks I would have molecular engineers extracting matter from my hull that had merged through osmosis as for a terrasecond our two ships had occupied the same space (its a given that Ashtur's vessel occupied slightly more).  I spun off the trajectory and klaxons went silent, indicating that the Sansha thread had ended.  I brought her about and got back on comms.  It was 2 minutes before we dropped everything;  through some logistical error, alone and unguarded, a superior Slave of the Sansha had traversed the wormhole.  It didn't last long as he was lcoked down and bombarded, and a cheer went out on Local when it's fiery wreck lit up the system. 

There were victories and losses.  Pilots, numbed, went back to their activities, in full knowledge that this was simply a prelude to the universe-rocking raid that would come in 48 hours.  Untill then, all we could do was wait, and in idle hours in our cabins, review the personel files of those Serrans who had avoided capture due to our efforts, to read who they were and what they wanted to be when they grew up, to feel we had a hand in that to give the dark days to come a hair more meaning.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Uh oh

Calm between the storms.  After Sansha ransacked Oruse and did damage at Uedama and Anyed, things settled for a day.  Moira. forces were redistributed and our nets were cast wide for intel on any upcoming incursions.

The Informant had apparently spawned an infosite on the datasphere, collectively analyzed and assessed  by pod pilots across the universe, and from there had come the recent leaks, however the flow had, for now, stopped.  Across the Empires pod pilots grouped and patrolled, on edge and waiting.  Whatever item that cargo ship in hisec held that the Sansha felt was important enough to create a separate incursion to retrieve, it is a worry to every free-thinking citizen and soldier.

I took a break to comb separate intel for traces of my Brother.  With the Sansha onslaught I hadn’t had an opportunity to meet with his former Corp, the one he robbed, to see if I could glean any details, so I sent some electronic mail to try to get that ball rolling.  Killmail scans told me he had been quiet lately, or his kills had gone unrecorded.  

At the moment I was burning through Amarr space in the Madilirmire system, home to another Sansha attack a couple of weeks ago.  It was a different place, with recovery and rebuilding underway.  Still there were great swathes or wreckage spinning in the dark as probes and drones interlaced the starfield to coordinate salvage.  My trusty Purifier cruised past the corpse of another Purifier, its pod-creche gouged out by laserfire.  I nodded internally with respect for the loss as it passed off my field of view.

I spiraled toward the sun while blasting sensor scans, tuned for the faintest echolocation or anomaly to indicate a wormhole.


Core probes found a newly opened wormhole.  Madilimire had been ransacked twice by Sansha’s Nation, and I’d rolled the dice that it might happen again.  The anomaly that represented the new wormhole was 25 AU away and found faintly under wide-spread 5-side-dice formation.  I tightened the radii as I warped closer to the area,  far off the core in an arc between planets 4 and 5.

Warp tunnel collapsed, a bit more scanning, and I had a lock.  I cloaked mid-warp as my heart began to thrash in my chest.  I wouldn’t broadcast on FCORD until I could be sure that what I was seeing was a new incursion.  In the seconds before exiting the warp tunnel I prerecorded a warning of the incursion and had the ship’s computer set to transmit should in the seconds before my destruction, should they be waiting.

There it was: a massive hole in space, no one else around for many AU’s, my lone quivering frigate beholding the ripple-edged beauty of an exception in nature.  Nothing had come through, according to shipboard analysis of the energy levels.  No mass destabilization.  It had to have appeared within the last three minutes.  Then it rippled and perhaps the first of many Battleships crested the event horizon to become real on the Madilimire side.

It was an independent mission-runner, and not Sansha.  My heart skipped a beat then downshifted as I saluted his scarred vessel.  He must have noticed his hisec exit dissolved and immediately scanned down the new transfer, as I did.

Sometimes it’s a big story for me, and sometimes it’s a lot more domestic than I expected.  They can’t all be winners, folks!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Carrier Loss Aftermath and a New Attack

One effort to evacuate citizens in lowsec ahead of the invasion had ended largely in disaster.    The Sansha menace loomed large, as more analysis and speculation was heaped on the little intel we still had.  Through it all I knew my sole aim was to find and ruin my Brother, however I couldn’t do that if he and I were both mindless Sansha slaves.  There was a growing possibility that the Sansha had many more tricks up their sleeves, enough sleight of hand to bring the whole house of cards down.  If they massively invaded hisec with their warships, if Concord and the factions collapsed to Sansha Nation rule, I would never have my revenge.  The invasion had become a threat to my vengeance, and so I would help to head up the defense for a short time before getting back on task.

I had escaped the Oruse ambush, leaving the Archon wreckage and the expanding corona of it’s loss behind.  My Manticore friend likewise aligned to the slowly retreating dropships bristling with citizens to see that they were unmolested as they fled to the adjacent system.

Our leader in Moira., Julianus Soter, perhaps the most recognized name in the universe right now, had plans to defend both lowsec Oruse and hisec Deltole.  The issue was getting our warships that far down south through pirate territory without falling to the same fate as the Archon carrier.  He made his way downtown with a plan; find a wormhole that would connect from near Oruse to near Pelisle, our stagin ground on the edge of hisec.  This was a million-to-one shot, but he’d already posted a 20 million reward for any pilot that located a decent link.  Oruse was dry, he moved on to Hare and I to Heleule.  I had a couple of close calls with pirate traffic but my Anathema and her warp stabilizers got me out of it.  

With amazing luck, Soter chimed in on comms: “FOUND ONE!”  With 30,000 planets in New Eden, he had found a direct link from Hare to Grispire, the system next door to Pelisle.  While this handy link was intended to route our warships into the area of the lowsec invasion, it soon had another use.

The FCORD announcement landed in our intel folders simultaneously.  Adye was under attack.  It was a hisec system that seemed to be 16 jumps from everyone.  From Osure it was far more, but I needed to get there fast.  Wormhole!

Soter and I hurried to the lowsec end of the hole and burned through, dephasing a brief moment before being spit out adjacent to the Corp’s home of Pelisle.  From there it was a dozen jumps, with various fleets beefing their numbers along the way or merging, by the time SYNE and FCORD arrived in numbers we had a sizeable fleet.

At Planet III numerous corporations aligned with FCORD/SYNE motives arrived in warp or cyno bursts.  Hearts beat fast a sensors swept the scene. 

Compared to the 1400 ships in  the Uedama incursion, this strike force was relatively small and came in two waves, the second being a cluster of 15 Battleships.  In each case the combined might of the hisec defense was enough to repell them.

While countless pilots breathed easy and others questioned whther Sansha resources had finally begun to run thin, somewhere in the mass, a lone freighter chugged.  In it was stored, perhaps, the key to the fall of the Empires.  We don't know what (or who) was being transported...

Intercepted Sansha communiqu├ęs indicated the reason that the incursion was so small; they were not there to destroy, they were there to pick something up.  Whether the freighter slipped through the hairball unnoticed to be enveloped by a Battleship, or a cloaked Sansha ship had sped through the system to scoop up the precious cargo while the warships at the wormhole distracted the defenders, we cannot yet know.  What we do know is that the Sansha apparently have plans beyond simple enslavement and zombification.  

We pushed them off and the remaining Battleships in the second Sansha wave flickered out of existence as one, presumably back to from where they came.  Capsuleers careened amidst the light wreckage recovering people and salvage as the debates rages in numerous channels.  The immediate danger now past, forces redistributed to Deltole to prepare for the next day’s expected invasion (unless this too was a distraction).  While most considered travelling to Oruse in lowsec to defend that backwater world not worth the danger or effort, Moira. Flocked back to their temporary wormhole and Julianus led a force to the Oruse area to set up camp.  We might be a loose-knit force of dedicated defenders when the wormhole tears itself open over planet 7, but those we could not save via evacuation would not be let down by the immortals that cruise the heavens beyond their horizons.

A calm settled over the galaxy.  We knew They were coming, busting out of the void, ripping holes in space, ramming massive fleets through to bombard humanity.  If they were walking organic robots, having done away with emotion and passion, then they were turning back on their parents, the very source of humanity, in an effort to snuff out anything with more mental freedom than a slave.  This was a war to protect what made us human, the instincts, the creativity, the love and hate that greased the gears of civilization’s crawl to Utopia.  The Sansha believe complete uniformity will eliminate strife from the galaxy.  

They’re right.

What they are not considering is the use of strife.  Should a calm gray apathy descend on life in the universe, conflict would vanish, as would invention.  Ancient names like Einstein, Oppenheimer, the greatest leaps forward have come as a result of desperation, war, pain, jealousy, vengeance, affection, drive.  Humanity, if it could still be called that under Sansha rule, would stagnate.  Research would stop.  With nothing new added there would only be opportunities for already-discovered technologies to slip away.  Decades, perhaps eons may pass as the Sansha de-evolve with no creativity to rein in the atrophying, the entropy, the relentless directive of chaos theory.  How long before the technology to maintain their mindless slavery itself comes to problems?  Would we survive waking up in a virtual stone age?  These are all simple projections on my part; in any case, the Sansha might win the war, but with no further battle, they will lose what remains of their souls.