Life in the Space Lane

Archive for October, 2011

S.S.Sunday: Pax Goonorum, part I

Last week I decided to start adding fiction to the blog under the title of “Something Something Dark Side Sundays”.  I have a feeling that this will come back to bite me right in the tush, but I’ve decided to do a serialized story with a new section posted each week, despite previous experience telling me that that’s such a freaking dumb move.  Anyway, this story’s called “Pax Goonorum”, because I appreciate shitty puns.  No, it’s not a puff piece or political rant about the Goons, they just happen to be a motif throughout the story.  I have no idea how long this story is gonna run, but seeing as I have plenty other projects on the boil (like I said, this is a really stupid move on my part), I doubt it will run much more than ten or fifteen mini-chapters long.  Still, it’s a story I want to tell, just for teh lulz.  Enjoy :)

— Hatchet xo

 

 

Pax Goonorum, part I

 

“I’m usually the one in control.  Today, I’m a passenger.”

Her companion smiled thinly.  “Bit of a change, huh?”

“You’re telling me.”

“Speaking of change, you haven’t changed a bit.  Then again, you’ve changed several times.”

The small Achuran woman leaned forward, elbows on the table, trying to figure that statement out.  “I’m the same… but I’ve changed?”

“You’re still the same person, still look the same, still the same voice.  But it’s just… creepy, knowing that the body in front of me was grown in a vat, like the several others before it.  Worse, knowing that the original was incinerated months ago.  Just… memories, I dunno.”

Memories of walking along a beach and wrestling in the surf, of curling up together under the burgundy silk sheets of her bed.  Life had been hard whenever they were together, like the universe was trying to torture them for something.  Her smile wavered slightly, and she was glad that he couldn’t see the pain in the watery grey-blue eyes behind her dark sunglasses.  “Well, it’s still me on the inside,” she said thickly.

He grinned and leaned back in his seat, plucking a deep-fried chunk of potato out of the dish between them.  “Yeah, still you.  It’s good seeing you again.”

“You too, and thanks for helping me out on short notice like this.”

He waved a hand as the other tossed the wedge into his mouth.  They were good quality potatoes, too, grown locally in the soil as opposed to a hydroponic array off-world.  The price reflected it, of course, but neither of them was exactly hard-up for cash.  For a capsuleer, the girl was working-class, but by planetary standards she was richer than a queen.  Her oldest and dearest friend was no slouch, either: in his line of ‘business’, six figure sums changed hands with the ease of passing someone a glass of rum and Quafe.

Arran sipped from his glass of dark, honey-like Matari beer and licked a dab of foam from his upper lip.  “No problem.  Anything for you, Hatchet, and I mean anything.”

She smiled at the use of her old nickname.  “Don’t say that, or it’ll came back around to bite you.”

He acknowledged with a shrug.  “Perhaps, but I don’t think you’re about to bleed me dry anytime soon.”

“Don’t tempt me.  I just saw the estimated cost to replace that Crane; turns out even Platinum-level insurance isn’t enough to replace half the crap I had tacked onto it.”

She checked the time on a little data pad, then paused as she saw her bank balance.  “You bastard.”

The Gallentean shrugged.  “Pay me back later.  You’ll probably be needing that Crane.”

She knew that he knew that she knew better than to argue or try to send the money back.  This was exactly the kind of smug, smarmy shit he pulled that made it so hard for her to say goodbye.  Eventually, she figured, they’d either get tired of it and settle down to suburban monogamy and 0.4 children, or get tired of it and never see each other again.

A stranger approached their table.  Hatchet’s hand slid to her hip and the small pistol concealed there.  He had the strong jaw and hooded eyes of a ‘true’ Amarrian, but his clothes had a very spartan Caldari sensibility to them.

“Hey, Marius,” said Arran cheerfully.  “Don’t shoot, Hatchet, he’s one of the good guys.”

“Afternoon,” said the stranger, with a nod to Arran.  “This your cargo?”

“This is she.  Hatchet, Marius, Marius, Hatchet.  Shall we?”

He downed the last of his beer and stood up.  Hatchet hadn’t ordered a drink, and the salty nuggets of potato had dried her mouth and lips.  As they followed Marius down the street, she swung past a street vendor and bought a cup of some ethnic drink, fermented bean curd water or something.  It tasted pretty good, mainly because of the amount of sugar in it.

Marius spoke over his shoulder as they walked.  “In case we get split up, I’m in Bay Four One Oh Two, down at the Ishukone yards.”

Arran glanced at Hatchet.  “You get that?”

She nodded over the rim of her cup.  She was looking at the dull grey discs on the back of Marius’ neck.  Of course, every capsuleer had them, but she always found them a little weird, knowing that there was a network of contacts and circuits built right into the flesh of each clone, but that you couldn’t feel it.  She had tried, lying on her back and shifting her weight to see if she could feel the metal in her skin, but she could never feel anything more than the ports that ran from the base of the skull to the middle of her back.  It creeped the hell out of her.

Marius paused in mid-step, spread his feet, and changed direction with a feline grace.  Arran was able to see past the tall Amarrian, and stopped in his tracks.  “Threat!” he yelled, a sharp bark at the top of his lungs, drawing a gun from a shoulder holster under his jacket.  Everyone around them jumped and looked, but the shout triggered a reflex in Hatchet.  She drew the little pistol smoothly from the waistband of her pants as hundreds of hours of training kicked in.  The gun was up in her hand before she even knew what she was supposed to be aiming at, all in the time it took for Marius to change step and dive sideways.  She saw three men coming down the street, guns drawn, looking straight at them.  That must be the threat, then, she thought wryly as she took aim.


Once Upon a Time in Black Rise, part 2

For those of you who haven’t read the first part of this article, you can find it here.

So, I’d been playing EVE for about a month before most of my corp folded, leaving just me and the CEO.  I’d been playing for four months before the CEO—a veteran industrialist in his own right—decided to let his pilot’s license lapse so he could pursue his hobbies of weed and DJing.  In those four months, I’d received little help or guidance, so I had had to learn everything for myself.  In true Hatchet fashion, I had read every wiki and guide I could find, without going out and actually learning through experience.  To put it in EVE terms, my theoretical knowledge was millions of skillpoints above my apparent newb status.  Even if you had put me in a Drake, I’d probably have been rolled by a couple of Guristas frigates.  I couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper Brutix.

On one of many solo high-sec mining trips, after my corp had dissolved, I was out in my dear old Badger Mk.II with a Miner II on the one turret hardpoint.  I figured low yield and high cargo space would allow me to just “AFK mine” for a half hour or so while I tried to divine my path.  At least there would still be some ISK coming in while I trawled databases and guides.

Where do I go from here?  Should I put my hardly used alt into a PvP training corp and start working my way up toward fleet and factional warfare?  Should I start wormholing?  What kind of ships and fittings would I need for that?  Should I manufacture stuff from the few BPCs I had lying around and flog it at Jita?  Should I this, should I that?

As the Croissant II dropped out of warp into an asteroid belt—the poor old original Croissant had been lost to pirates about a week prior—I saw a Retriever pilot about fifty clicks off my starboard beam.  As always, while the targeting systems did their twenty-second-long crawl of a locking sequence, I checked through the pilot’s records and those of his corp.  On standings, they were both completely neutral.  Now, I don’t normally trust people when I can’t see their faces, so I figured I’d best keep an eye on him.  As I mined away, I kept one eye on my overview, eyeing the distance reading on the Retriever, glad to see that he was moving further away as he worked along the belt.

Half an hour later and I had done some research on Planetary Interaction and potentially lucrative moon-mining operations.  The Croissant’s arched belly was full and the mining laser switched itself off, so I warped home to dump the goods and buy some planetary control towers for later.  Once I’d done that, I headed back out and picked a different belt to work.  As soon as I dropped out of warp, I saw three things: an Orca, that same Retriever, and the wrecks of a couple of Guristas frigates.  Seeing that they’d at least gone to some effort to secure the belt for themselves, I hailed them in local to ask permission to mine in the area.  I forget exactly what I said, but it was something like:

Croissant II to mining operators in Uchomida Belt VII, come in please.

Trust me to get all prim and proper about it.  I’m surprised I didn’t go and use proper maritime RATEL procedures on them, and if I’d been on voice comms with them, I probably would have; I used to work with boats a lot in real life, still got the operator license.   I cut my thrusters and hung dead in space, a couple of hundred klicks out from the belt, and waited for a reply.

Hi, can we help you?

This was first contact: the first time I’d established some sort of conversation with another player that wasn’t sitting in the same room as me.  These pilots could have been at terminals halfway around the world or halfway down the street.  My palms were slick on my mouse and keyboard, not for fear of a blobbing or anything, but because if I remember correctly I had just recently seen that “Causality” trailer, and shit felt like it was going down kinda similar.  All I could think about was “I am sooooo not ready for factional warfare”.  If anyone had mentioned “Drekar Alliance”, I probably would have bolted.  Does the Drekar Alliance even exist?  Or was this whole thing a thinly-veiled RSF/BoB reference:

 

 

To keep local clear, I quickly struck up a private conversation with the Orca driver, who, it turned out, was his corp’s Director of Industry.  Figuring (correctly) that I was a bit of a noob, he offered me the Orca’s gang bonuses and the protection of his his huge swarm of drones while we worked.  I learned more in those couple of hours talking to him than I had in the five months that I’d been playing.  Granted, I only log in maybe once or twice a week, but when I do I spend hours and hours up to my metaphorical balls in the weird and wonderful ways of New Eden.

Just like in the video, I soon joined the ranks of this mining corp, and have been there since.  If you’re desperate, you can usually find us cutting and grinding somewhere in the Aokinen and Kurala constellations.  Drop by and come mine with us sometime, we’re friendly enough if you keep your hands above the table  ; )

 

— Hatchet xoxo

 

 

P.S. Here’s how it’s really done, for those of you who are curious:

“Hello All Stations in Uchomida Belt Seven, All Stations Uchomida Belt Seven, this is UNTF Croissant II, UNTF Croissant II, to All Stations in Uchomida Belt Seven, over.”

The correct response would have been:

“UNTF Croissant II, UNTF Croissant II, this is [insert vessel ident and name], [repeat vessel ident and name], go ahead, over.”

And you though your FC knew what he was doing. Hah! :D and finally, an RL example of a short-range call I once almost used on a ferry that almost wiped out the open-hulled speedboat I was piloting (only reason I didn’t say it was ‘cos the radio was damaged):

“MV Kurilpa, MV Kurilpa, this is Charlie-Echo-Fower-Fife-Eight-Quebec Jolly Roger, kindly keep your propwash to a minimum when passing within three metres of a craft one-tenth of your size.  I’m not in the mood for swimming, over.”

Yeah, actually, that reminds me why I left that job…  Heh.  — H.


By The Pricking Of My Thumbs…

Dear me, it’s been a hell of a week for the community, huh?

I’m not going to rehash the story, you all know it by now.  If you don’t, there are plenty of articles about it on far better blogs than this one.  Go forth and be enlightened, capsuleer.

Hearing about the unfortunate termination of beloved figures like CCP Fallout and others from the community management team and many other departments strikes a painful blow, but at least they are staying active within the community.  Yes, they have lost their official status, but we have not lost them.

I think the lovely Jester (a.k.a. Ripard Teg), from Jester’s Trek, put it best when he said:

A closer examination of the financials in that June statement confirmed it: CCP had a burn rate of between 7 and 8.5 million USD per year.  They needed to be at 6: [their loan was for] 12 million USD over two years.  Therefore, they were burning cash higher than the rate supportable by the loan.  Therefore, what they were doing was not sustainable unless that investment started returning a profit before the two years were over.

That made what happened yesterday at CCP inevitable.  Hilmar had to show his investors that he was serious about making his business sustainable.  In the longer term, CCP could repay that loan.  But the ability to repay the loan isn’t what this was about.  This was about demonstrating that CCP had a sustainable business model that could fit within their burn rate and maintain liquidity.  DUST still isn’t out [meaning that EVE is CCP’s the only thing making them any money], which means that Hilmar needed to have that liquidity loan renewed by his investors.  And that meant that he had to show his investors that he was serious about fitting his business within the burn rate for the next two years.

— by Jester, article “Burn Rate”, 20 Oct 2011. [article]

Yes, they are gone.  Yes, it bloody sucks.  Sorry, that’s business: you lose some, you lose some more.  It’s not easy getting fired, but I don’t envy a man who has to choose from among a team that he’s spent years building and pick one out of every five to get the chop (no, not that kind of ‘chop’).

They were not released because somebody had a whinge to CEO Hilmar Pétursson about them, or filed a suit against them, or simply because Pétursson himself didn’t like them.  They were downsized: CCP couldn’t afford to keep them.  Yes, I’m rehashing, even though I said I wouldn’t.

I don’t care if you didn’t like Jester’s article on the subject; he said some things that the close-minded among us may consider inflammatory, but I appreciate his simple honesty.  Read it anyway, and look past your emotions to see the simple truth in his words.

Let me relate a brief story, for those of you who may whinge about CCP’s actions, or worse, those who discredit or belittle Mr Pétursson’s open letter to the community:

As I was finishing the last jumps of a recent cargo haul from Domain to Black Rise, I was reading along in corp chat as one of my colleages conferred with our Director of Industry on quantities and prices of materials needed to build a Brutix battlecruiser.  She did the sums, and found that she was a few million ISK short.  Without hesitation, I sent 5 million to her.  After her initial shock, she gladly agreed to pay it back when she was able.  I didn’t expect to see the money back for a few weeks, and that was fine by me.  I also flew 26 systems to Minmatar space to help transport the materials and guide her home, then flew them all the way back, even having to duck through a couple of firefights near the Gallente-Caldari Border Zone.  When we returned to our Forward Operating Base in Ichoriya, she managed to repay me on the spot with double the amount I’d originally given her, citing “bonuses” with a big ol’ smiley face on the end.  Needless to say, making 5 mil off an hour or so of cargo hauling kept me grinning well into the night (like this pic of Hatchet’s RL face!).

If you’re wondering what that story has to do with the whingers or the grouches, let me put it in the most simple terms I can:

Someone I know had a problem.  They could have worked it out, given time, but I supported them, without being asked and expecting no reward.  Thanks to my support, that someone was able to not only solve their problem but also repay my solidarity faster and to a greater degree than I had expected.

CCP has some problems, and they know it.  They have voiced these problems, and many people have given them grief for it.  I’m not saying people aren’t supporting them, but among the hundreds of thousands of us capsuleers there are definitely some people who are very vocal in their lack of support.

I’m not saying that CCP will pay us 5 million ISK if we silently support them, and if that’s what you thought I meant by that, you may be the kind of person who will try to find the secrets of the universe encoded in this.

What I’m getting at is that CCP knows they dun’ goofed.  In my psuedo-professional opinion, they are quite within their rights to ignore the pestering masses, in order to focus on correcting the errors they’ve already acknowledged they made.  Pestering is not helping.  Slander is not a solution.

I’m Hatchet.  You’re on notice.

(nah, I love you guys, really.)

P.S. This video sounds pretty much like how I feel about the downsizing. Listen to it without feeling a little sad, I dare you.  — H xo

 

P.P.S. Yeah, I know that’s not my real face. — H