Friday, March 29, 2013

Captain’s Log; Luminaire, After The Battle for Caldari Prime…

All is quiet on the bridge. The background hum of the power units, felt more than heard… the gentle susurrus of the atmo plant, the rustle and murmur of the duty shift… It’s midwatch and everything is bathed in soft indirect red lighting, giving the ‘feel’ of night without losing visual detail...

Rigging for Red in the Conn is an eon’s old naval tradition during midwatch, no matter that the rest of the boat in under 20% normal lighting in the gangways and bays... just at the point of loss of color vision. But the Conn, the Command Deck, is a special place… even tonight, especially tonight.

I sit leaning forward lost in thought… no one disturbs me. They all know I am chewing over the last few days in my mind… the choices, my choices… and the lives those choices cost… I sit in the ruddy red light staring into the main viewscreen and think back…

* * * * * * *

I and my crew had no ‘stake’ in the Battle to come. We are Anoikis veterans and a mixed crew. There are Caldari, Gallente, Matarii and even a few Amarr in my crew, all of whom have chosen to turn their backs on the Empires of New Eden and forge a life for themselves and their families on the other side of the sky… They all swore an oath to each other on joining my corp and crew… an oath above all others to trust in each other regardless of Race, Bloodline, Creed or Religion.

We all knew what going to Luminaire meant to each of us. It was discussed, and in this special case, voted on in full assembly before we shipped up. Normally we operate under standard Navy regs… my ships run under a taut Dictatorship and I am the Despot. But this… this was different. And I was not going to have a man or woman aboard that was not fully in agreement with going. We had heard the rumors, scoured the NEOCOMM, waved friends and sometimes, even enemies seeking information, rumors and rumors of rumors...

We slowly came to understand that it was true… that after all these years a major military effort was going to be fielded… to destroy the Caldari Titan “Shiigeru”. Finally a fight to remove the Leviathan and the Caldari support Fleet that had held orbit for 5 long years over the planet Caldari Prime in the Luminaire system… Holding captive and threatening wholesale death to the Gallente citizens cordoned off and held captive in ‘Districts’ on the planet’s surface directly below.

But, for the first time pitting not only the Caldari and Gallente Navies against each other but a new type of ground force would be in pitched battle down below. These were not standard Military forces, but DUSTers. Originally they were criminal test subjects, then Amarrian volunteers, heavily modified with radical Sleeper implants, they were called ‘Templars’ by the Amarr. They were elite, highly trained, physically conditioned to a level never seen before in a human and mentally conditioned to complete subservience and absolute service to Amarr… and to Empress Jamyl Sarum herself. They were the secret product of the Amarr Empire’s desire to rule ALL of New Eden… Immortal and all but invincible Soldiers… soldiers who cannot die.

But those plans and secrets were exposed during the Battle for the Matarii Core Freedom Colony on the planet Pike’s Landing in the Amamake system. Near the end, with the extreme escalation of the battle going against them, the Imperial Navy itself bombarded the HAZMAT truck farm that they believed held all the remaining Templar Clones, and their secret Sleeper tech… but they were wrong. One escaped…

Templar One, Vince Barabin as he was known in his former life... he escaped all who tried to find him and found peace and safety offered him by the Ishukone CEO, Mens Rappola… and in the care of Dr. Gable Deitrich one of his former crewmates from The Retford… safety in return, of course, for the reverse engineering of the Sleeper technology inside his brain.

An individual Immortality Implant… an implant that replaces the entire hippocampus, thalamus and brainstem in the human brain and replaces the spinal cord with technology that not only does all the functions of a normal spinal cord, but is also a very powerful transmitter. It is this implant that makes possible the same instantaneous personality gestalt transfers similar to the Empyreans… only over planetary ranges, not light years.

This technology has now been released to the whole of New Eden. Now the terrible deadly no quarter given or asked battles that the Empyreans wage in the cold hard black… will be as ferociously waged in the harsh bright light of day in the mud and the blood down deep in the gravity wells of the planets and moons of New Eden.

But… DUSTers are not Templars. While they are as elite, as highly trained, as highly conditioned and as incredibly deadly… and yes, as Immortal… they are free agents like their Immortal brethren, the Empyreans. They are Immortal Mercenaries beholden to no one and swayed by no laws or rules of man other than the strictures of CONCORD.

This was the battle we face… this was a battle that was named before it even began… The Battle for Caldari Prime. I had decided I wanted to take a ship there and if not take sides, at least take part. In our daily operations in Anoikis the only way to make ISK, to turn coin as we say, is through Sleeper Loot & Salvage… and looting and salvaging is something we are very good at… and I had a feeling the airless black above Caldari Prime was going to be littered with wrecked ships very, very soon.

Now there are them as call us vultures… feeding on the dead they say. But the very simple truth is, if we don’t Loot & Salvage those wrecks, someone else will and we didn’t assplode all them ships… Why, the truth be known, we’re performing a civic duty by cleaning ‘em up and keeping the orbits free of junk! Do you have any idea how many weather and communication satellites are brought down each year in New Eden by errant wreckage?? The figure would astound you I assure you.

So, we discussed, voted and loaded up one of my new favorite Salvage Destroyers… an Algos. Lovely bird the Algos… sorta reminds you of one of them old fashioned ‘airships’ from ancient history… or what used to be called a ‘submarine’… though even our Matarii Marines cannot dun the why of that naming… but they do share a familiarity with the quaint 2D ‘flats’ of ‘submarines’ from the mythology of old Earth that was.

So, we fitted her up, but not as a ‘dedicated’ salvager with tractors and Salver IIs in the weapon mounts… no, there was going to be a War in progress and we could not count on Caldari or Gallente Naval protection… for that matter maybe not even CONCORD… and if the most extreme rumors were true we might even encounter Dread fleets from the far deeps of Null where lawless and strange pirate Alliances hold sway over countless vast and rich… and yet empty… star systems, where not even CONCORD dares go.

[Algos, HDF =Das Boot=]
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Drone Link Augmentor I
Thermic Dissipation Amplifier II
Upgraded EM Ward Amplifier I
1MN Afterburner II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Co-Processor II
Small Ionic Field Projector I
Small Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Drone Bay:
Hobgoblin II x10
Salvage Drone I x5

This is a sweet little boat and for a Dessie decent EHP/DPS (w/ my skills) but her main job on this run was to field those Salvager Drones at max range and be able to (hopefully) GTFO if needed. But I was not overly concerned… I had run Salvage Ops at the Titan a few years ago when I was a newly minted Captain with my very First Cruiser command (a Stabber)… which, TBH, I lost before I even got her home AND I lost her to the Caldari Titan Support Fleet… which was WHY I had spent quite a bit if time round the ol Titan… learning how to deal with those poor bastards, the Caldari Fleet commanders… you see they had some serious issues with Tibus Heth as I understood it… cause he had laid down some very weird RoE’s (Rules of Engagement)…

You see if a “ship” attacked them they could, and did, respond in kind… in other words fire on one and they ALL fired back… yes, learned that one the hard way I did… BUT, sic some ‘drones’ on ‘em and they could only fire back on the drones, yes… I said ONLY the drones… weird huh? But if while your drones are putting the damn damn on em if you opened fire with your guns and then recalled your drones… guess what? They stopped defending themselves.

Yup, stopped em dead. It seems they were only allowed to fire upon who, or what, actually initiated the hostilities… as you had ‘joined’ the drones aggro after they initiated, then when the drones either assploded (you didn’t always get em all back in time… there were upwards of 40 BC and BS class vessels out there ya know…) but once they were either a ball of wreckage or smoking and shooting sparks all over your drone bay... the ship you were still firing on was not allowed to fire back on you as ‘you’ were not the aggressor… even though you were still firing on them!

So you could just follow em around and kill ‘em at your leisure… and then Loot and Salvage for profit. Well, you could vie for the L&S… there were a LOT of pilots who knew this game and came only for the L&S. I knew that game well too… spent many an evening later on in a dedicated fast salvager doing exactly the same thing. So I felt I had a lock on that aspect of the coming battle… my worry was the battle itself and how the system’s Sec Rating was gonna be hit by this event… but, better to try and lose then to never try at all I say.

So we entered Luminaire two nights before the planned attack. I wanted to make some Safes insystem, some InstaWarps off of several Stations and Warpto’s all around Titan herself. In general do some scouting and get familiar with the ‘lay of the grid’ as they say and… well… things didn’t work out quite as planned.

Our first night in we made and logged the BMs we needed around the system then did some scouting around in general, then we went to the Titan… Those of my crew who had not seen the Leviathan or any Titan up close before were, as all are… awed at first sight of one of the largest class of Warships in New Eden. I dropped us out of warp at 50km from the “Shiigeru”. She is a “Leviathan” class Titan of Caldari design and manufacture and she is 18,056m in length… 18 kilometers long.

As seen from 50km out she sits regal in the light from both the Luminaire sun and the reflected light from Caldari Prime. I order us to fly in under full thrusters… Then I, and the old hands, enjoyed the show as our newest crewmates first see smaller vessels orbiting and flying around the Leviathan… and then, as I did years ago, the jaw dropping understanding when they realize those tiny ‘specks’ are Battlecruisers… and Battleships. The sheer SIZE of the damned thing is very hard to grasp. To ‘say’ eighteen kilometers and ‘see’ 18km are two very different things…

Once things settle down I give the crew… hell, and myself TBH, a bit of a treat and do a grand tour of the old war horse with her gleaming deep blue-black armor… Once from stem to stern over the top then down and under and back. I finally order everyone back to duty stations and them as not ‘on’ duty “OFF MY BRIDGE!” I grin to myself as they jump and then file out smiling and thumping each other’s shoulders…

We make a number of Pounce BMs both out at warp range and in close. A good number of Empyreans and Faction War vessels from both sides are now gathering, same as us, either here for sport or those as are engaged in the war effort, for honor, or for ISK… There are the usual conflicts whenever Empyreans gather… the criminal and the suspect and the corporate grudges and wars do not stop just because a major battle is to be waged… if anything that fact alone heightens the probability of conflict both intentional and not… there are wrecks on scan… lots of wrecks…

We take up a stationary position under the Titan and near to center of the fleet of ships… I had noticed that the Standard Caldari Navy Titan Support Fleet was not here when we arrived… but there are many wrecks and drifting scorched and blackened freight containers… very many of them. I order a deep scan and the results are as I guessed… the Standing Fleet had been decimated by the Empyreans. I have seen this only once before… back during the Jita Riots. The New Eden clusterwide political turmoil that followed in the path of drastic changes to clone technology and the market made unilaterally by one of, if not “the”, the most influential and enigmatic corporations in New Eden, CCP.

The Jita Riots were named for the political rioting that started at the Jita Monument… it spread quickly to Amarr, Rens and other systems and even here, to the Titan… the number of Empyreans present that day was stunning. And I and my crew joined in just to say we had. When I arrived then, as today, the Standing Fleet had been destroyed. And as we watched that day a backup fleet warped in and landed on grid at the Titan… and melted in less time than it takes to read this recounting. It was quite simply amazing to see… and it seemed to be repeating on this day… and a few minutes later, it did. The backup Standing Fleet landed on grid and… very quickly, died to a ship.

I ordered “Man Battle Stations.” “Align to Safe 1.” “All stop and hold at station keeping.” Once all decks and stations had reported in and we were holding station I ordered “Launch Salvage Drones.” and began calling targets… the drones went to work efficiently and without incident… right up to when we exploded…     Huh.    I sat in my POD rocking in the shock wave and rapidly dissipating cloud of wreckage and smoke from my lost Algos… I was stunned to say the least… it seems I had been CONCORDED... wait… what!?!?  CONCORDED!?!?!?! WTF? We were only SALVAGING for the god’s sake!!!

I had SARA (Semi Autonomous Rational Array computer AI) check on the crew, losses were light thank the gods, but still… the loss of even one life in the pursuit of what I “knew” was legitimate deep space salvaging was for me simply unforgivable. I waved CONCORD and immediately lodged a formal complaint and asked for an investigation and explanation of this heinous act…  I was told, “Due to recent changes in CONCORD Law and Empyrean Rules of Engagement (the infamous Crimewatch System) any drones used in assistance against a pilot with a Criminal Flag now garners a Criminal Flag and “Drone Assistance” against pilots with either Suspect Flag or who is an Outlaw now garners a Suspect Flag also. SARA received and displayed the following chart from CONCORD…

So… huh… Salvage drones can kick off Illegal acts now and not a god’s damned thing I can do about it… great. OK, my crew, officers and men had all rendezvoused back at Dodi Station and I bought and fit out another Algos same as the old =Das Boot= and we went back to Luminaire, stationed up and logged for the night.

The next night we went back to work at the Titan… On our way I stared at that damned CONCORD “Crimewatch” Safety Switch that had been installed, against my will, under the CONCORD “Retribution Act”. After they had finished installation and we had undocked I set the thing to “RED” (off), had my engineers make a very nice tritanium cover that blended in nicely with the control panel it was installed in and to finish it off, I had a small flatscreen installed on top with a endlessly cycling animation of a multicolored Unicorn prancing merrily around on it… like we needed a stoopid ‘safety’ switch…

However, always a man to look to the future and not make light of technological advancements no matter how stoopid or asinine… I had them remove the cover and I set the (stoopid) switch to “GREEN” (safe). As I understood it now if I tried to ‘do’ anything that would warrant a Suspect or worse, a Criminal Flag (IE a CONCORD set transponder code that transmits omni-directionally on ALL bands that we just did a boo-boo so everyone can take pot shots at us…) that “GREEN” setting would keep us from ‘accidentally’ getting CONCORDED or attacked by Empire Police, Navies and/or other Empyreans… uh, huh.

This time we landed on grid at max drone range, 55km from the nearest ships and wrecks… I angled for a fly by that would keep us aligned to a warpable and ordered speed set to 78%... as slow as we can go and still guarantee an immediate warp initiation, then I launched the Salvage drones and targeted ONE wreck… and set em on it while I hovered over my Nav Officer ready to pounce and hammer the ‘Warp’ button the second I saw anything hinkey… The drones droned away on the wreck, and delivered some nice salvage back to the hold… whew.

OK, Salvage Ops SOP was now to orbit at extreme range, salvage one wreck at a time and take it easy… Things settled into a routine. We orbited the site staying between 50 and 55km from the currently targeted wreck and trying as hard as we could to keep up with or beat the other ships to the salvage until we exploded…

Huh? I sat in my POD rocking in the shock wave and rapidly dissipating cloud of wreckage and smoke from my lost Algos… I was stunned to say the least… it seems I had been CONCORDED... again… wait… what!?!?  OH GODSDAMMIT!!!! CONCORDED AGAIN!?!?!?!

Needless to say I was… displeased. At this point though, having lost 2 ships, fits (but no more crew as we were ready this time dammit!) and what was shaping up to be a worthwhile load of salvage… Crap. So we all just rendezvoused at the nearest station and drank the night away… whatta waste…

This afternoon, after we had all taken our “Hair of the Dawg” pills and cleaned up a bit, I purchase a Hound and fit only a CovOps Cloak and a 1MN MWD… and we headed out to see what we shall see… and well, it was all over… and had been for hours. The “Shiigeru” had been destroyed and the wreckage was down spread over the surface of Caldari Prime… the battle is over and all that was still going one was a smattering of Empyreans going at each other tooth and nail and the Gallente Navy and CONCORD back in full force… whatta waste, what a terrible terrible waste…

* * * * * * *
I slowly stand in the bloody light of the Conn… and order normal lighting resumed and then,“Open shipwide comms”….

“This is the Captain…”
“My friends, we came to take part and witness, and possibly profit from, this great battle.”
“We missed the fight, lost two ships, made not one red ISK and lost a few good men into the bargain.”
“We are, it seems, too far removed from the rules and ways of life in Known Space.”
“These Empires have become strange to me… the rules here make no sense anymore.”

“We are now truly a people of Anoikis, that is the place where we know and understand the rules and the ways in which we must live, and die… that is our home and the place we belong, not here.”
“Let us go home now… and mourn our dead and hold our loved ones once again and take leave of… this…”

I wave an arm at the screen showing Caldari Prime and the burning craters visible from space to the naked eye. The craters that broke through to magma… when the “Shiigeru” fell from the sky…

”Let us leave these wars of genocide and mass destruction to them as find it suitable… I no longer do.”
I take my seat, wave comms closed and order Rig for Red resumed. I stare at the lurid monstrous scene before me…

“Take us away from here…”
I say it quietly, almost to myself… The bridge crew quietly turns to their duties and sets course. We bank away from Caldari Prime… her burning lands and the unaccountable millions of her dead… and dying. We align and build speed… then, for the first time in my life, that brief, gut wrenching ‘twist’ one feels as the ship shudders through the warpbarrier… is not so much something to be endured as it is… a relief.

The camdrones are locked on Caldari Prime and I watch as it swiftly disappears in our warpwake… I sit up, take a deep breath, let it out… then I tap the controls to set the cam view forward… without a second thought.

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)


  1. Nice story, had to read it in full just to determine if it was fiction or not :P
    It's not clear to me what caused your losses though. Salvage drones should be incapable of hostile acts, it's not possible to agress someone with a salvager either. Especially if the safety setting is set to green.

    I live in null so still have it set on the default green safety, if only to prevent me from doing stuff that will get me killed by accident. It would have saved my FC as well. We scanned down a PVE raven on a WH and jump after him, FC immediately starts shooting before realizing that the WH leads to high sec and he just got concorded.

  2. LOL... My blog is a little weird I'll grant... It is hard to describe. It is more the Story of Tur's Travels then metagame or commentary, yet I do both of those too.

    As an old old SciFi reader (and as an aspiring writer still) I tend to add elements of RP when I write up an 'experience' I have had that gives the recounting more of a SciFi Story feel.

    As for getting all assloded due to Salvaging, on both occasions I was attacked by the State Shukuro Nagashin / Caldari State (laid the final blow)...
    Both times were "before" the Live Event and the 2nd time Safety was GREEN and I never got a warning or nothing... weird. I am considering a petition...

    And that is frakkin hilarious! Yes, there are hole that lead from K-space to K-space... there a bit rare but to exist and that is just too funny!!!


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