Monday, 27 September 2010

N.S.S. Watchman, pt. 1

As a capsuleer, there is nothing more thrilling than getting to know a new ship. Alas my  crew doesn't always see it that way. Recently I... acquired through various means the N.S.S. Watchman, a Scorpion hull, Gurista-modified Rattlesnake class ship. The big brother to the N.S.S. Kitty Jay.

So to help keep the crew happy, I bought them all a little present. I could, of course, have hired a new crew. Most capsuleers hire separate crews for each ship. I can certainly see the sense in that. Nonetheless, I want to keep my crew together. Better the devil you know, as the Amarrians say.

Undarum: "Welcome to your new home. Well, workplace. The N.S.S. Watchman, half a kilometer of some seriously lethal technology. I strongly recommend you acquaint yourselves with the new systems now. Most have had an upgrade of one form or another."

Anuken: "Hmmph. Damned pirate technology."

Ikai: "Hey it works don't it?"

Undarum: "Sogeria, you have some new duties too. I need to use your propulsion jamming expertise. I'm going to take delivery of a new module and I want you up to date with the specifications."

Sogeria: "Well that makes up for the... poor electronics I've got down here. A little. Advanced webifier?"

Undarum: "Federation Navy issue. You should find the specifications in your personal data archive. Anuken, you should find that your new Seige launchers are now installed. I suggest you take a look."

Anuken: "State issue. Impressive. Something actually worth a damn on this rustbucket."

Undarum: "Ikai, I need you working over time. We've got a mixture of Guristas and State gear on the shields and I want you to make sure it all runs perfectly. You might need to get creative with some of the engineering."

Ikai: "Sounds like fun. I'll get on it."

Anuken: "Are you sure you've got the right gear in cargo here? Says you've got State issued torpedoes. Not like you to splash out on launchers."

Undarum: "That's right. Being a capsuleer has it's benefits. One of which is access to such impressive weapons technologies, at reasonable prices. Ida, not much is changing for you. I suggest you all familiarise yourselves with your new work areas quickly, because I have several jobs that need doing as soon as possible and I can't afford to be playing catch up."

Idavolle: "What, no new toys for me? I'm hurt."

Undarum: "Ida, you've always had the best equipment. Everyone else is just playing catch up. Besides, I have a surprise for you when we dock up."

Idavolle: "That can only be a bad thing, when a pod jockey has a "surprise" for me."


Computer: "Docking request accepted."

Undarum: "Take some time folks. Your usual boarding arrangments have been seen to. I expect you all back at 1900 standard time. Ida, meet me on the gantries when we dock."

Anuken: "Taking your boyfriend out huh Ida?"

Idavolle: "If we were that close, I wouldn't be flying about in this shit heap, I tell you that much."


Undarum: "Ida, I know you have had some... family issues. And that you haven't always been happy with my decision making. So, as a gesture of good will I wanted to do something for you."

[Now at this point I should take some time to introduce Idavolle's brother, Andre. This guy is the epitome of what is wrong with Gallentean kids. Faux Minmatar tattoos, gaudy fashion, the works. This kid wouldn't know class if it came up and kicked him in the arse. The strong Gallente accent doesn't help his case.]

Andre: "Ah Idavolle, it's been too long!"

Idavolle: "Fucking hell."

Andre: "Now, that's no way to treat your dearest brother. Why not come have a drink?"

Idavolle: "What's the quickest way to get rid of you? And Undarum, remind me to thank you personally later."

Undarum: "I will be on board, as always. Don't get too wasted, I need you capable tomorrow."

Idavolle: "Oh don't worry. I wont be out with this clown long."

Andre: "Come now, your Captain has been gracious enough to pay for my trip here. I just want to have fun!"

Idavolle: "That's always been your problem, Andre."

[OK, at this point I leave, but given their relationship I pay some... associates to keep an eye on what they're doing. I'm well known to the station staff so it's not hard to get regular updates on what they're up to. Or live camera and audio feeds, for that matter.]

Camera A19-D46
Push - Gallente themed bar, bar area

Idavolle: "So what did you do now, Andre? You didn't come all this way just to share a drink."

Andre: "Why so cynical? Actually I did a deal so that my debts are all clear."

Idavolle nearly chokes on his drink.

Idavolle: "Oh fucking hell, what sort of deal?"

Andre: "I just have to work off the debt moving some stuff around. You know how it is."

Idavolle: "Who the fuck is offering this work? And why are they paying you astronomical sums of money?"

Andre leans in to his brother, his face awash with excitement. He whispers.

Andre: "Serpentis corp. They want me to move some product for them."

Idavolle: "You utter moron. You do realise that what they want you to move?!"

Andre: "Of course."

Idavolle: "Then why the fuck did you offer to do it. Where are you supposed to be taking this stuff?"

Andre: "Where do you think?"

Idavolle looks at his brother, bewildered and scarlet with rage.

Idavolle: "You brought Serpentis shit onto a fucking SoE station you fucking numpty! Don't you realise...."

Andre: "Keep your voice down!! You're going to get us both caught."

Idavolle: "Caught?! You're working for the Sarpati family and you're worried about getting caught?! Just how stupid are you. We're leaving, now. Get your coat. We need to get you off this station."

[They promptly leave the bar. I track them to a quiet section of the corridor and get exactly what I was expecting.Idavolle gets in touch.]

Idavolle: "Captain, I need your help."

Undarum: "I know. Get Andre on board now. I have got the rest of the crew en route to the ship. You're lucky Ikai hadn't found the bar yet because otherwise we'd all be screwed."

Idavolle: "How did you.... never mind I don't care. I just need to get him some place safe."

Undarum: "I know somewhere the Serpentis don't show their face too much. I have an in with the Sisters, I can get him refuge, I'll make the arrangements."

Idavolle: "Thanks, I guess I owe you one."

Undarum: "By my count you owe me two, but I'm not keeping count for now. Just get back here in one piece. And make sure he doesn't bring the contraband on board. Otherwise I'm going to get a serious fine."


Computer: "Undocking sequence initiated. Request processing."

Undarum: "Lady and gents, we're making for Simela. Ikai, plot a course with the auto-pilot. Cut through low-sec if you have to. Fire up the I-fields and make sure you're prepared. This could be a rough ride. Idavolle, make sure Andre is sedated. I don't need someone with jump sickness running about causing issues."

Idavolle: "Done, he's out."

Undarum: "Right, course plotted. No quicker way than through high sec, so chances are we'll be good. Stand ready people, I don't want any unpleasant surprises."


Undarum: "Almost there people, one more jump."

Sogeria: "I'm picking up multiple jump drive deactivating right on top of us!"

Undarum: "How the fuck.... Ida I though I told you to make sure he go rid of anything he was carrying! Ikai, get us aligned, now!"

Idavolle: "I did, I swear!"

Undarum: "Well these guys didn't track us without help."

Ikai: "Serpentis frigate locking us down.... and we're scrammed. No way we're warping out of this one."

Local Broadcast: "Notice Serpentis vessels, cease and decist all hostile actions at once."

Undarum: "Buckle up people, this is going to be close. They brought out several battleships and plenty of support. Ida, when we're done kicking their arses I need a word with your brother. Whatever it is he's carrying, these guys are serious about getting it back."

[Continues soon]

Monday, 20 September 2010

A Close Encounter of the Bad kind

For those who don't know me already, I make most of my ISK from hunting pirates in high security space. Now it isn't the riskiest business but it's not with out its close calls. Here is a transcript with my personal notes from a recent encounter with a large Guristas attack force.

I got the location from a Caldari Navy contact. They were paying quite well for me to clean up this little problem.

(For non-capsuleers, or those that don't talk directly with their crew, I have my ship set up to pipe my voice and static image to my crew's stations while I observe them on internal camera drones.)

Undarum: "Anuken, get those launchers primed. Load them Defenders for now, get ready to switch to Scourges."

Anuken: "Aye."

Undarum: "Sogeria, be prepared for jammers. Do your best with what we've got."

[Sogeria never responds much to this sort of instruction. She busied herself with the computer and my feedback was telling me she was doing her job quietly. She does look straight at the camera drone at one point, as if to tell me she knows I'm watching.]

Undarum: "Ikai, get those shields ready. Expect heavy incoming hybrid and missile fire. Concussive force and heat damage will be high so get ready. Make sure propulsion is specced and ready to go."

Ikai: "Sure Und. Working on it. All our mods are online and resistances are looking good. AB is online and ready to fire. Cap stability looks good too."

[Ikai knows he doesn't have to tell me all this. He knows I know. He just wanted something to do to take his mind off the fact he could be blowing up his old buddies.]

Undarum: "Idavolle, lets show them what advanced Caldari Wasps can do. I want them ready to launch with auto-targetting algorithms ready in case Sogeria can't keep the targetting scanners online."

Idavolle: "You really said that just to piss me off, huh? The Wasps are good to go. Not quite as good as the Ogres..."

Undarum: "But as we both know Guristas shields are more vulnerable to concussive force than heat damage. Use the Wasps or you'll be out there flying with them."

Idavolle: "Might be preferable to in here..."

Undarum: "Prep the drones, be offended later."

Idavolle: "Yeah yeah. Drones are good to go."

Computer: "Activating deadspace gate. All hands stand ready."

Undarum: "Sogeria, we got jammers. Ikai, inbound webs, get the shields repping pronto. Anuken, for fucks sake get those Defenders out there. We got incoming torps from those BBs and I would rather they didn't make it."

Sogeria: "Jammers in range. Can't get a single lock. Working on it."

Ikai: "Webbing frigs have us. Shit.... we're scrammed."

Undarum: "Fuck. Ida if those frigs aren't gone soon we're toast."

Idavolle: "Drones are following their auto-targetting protocols. They have primaried the HAC and without a target I can't over-ride."

Undarum: "Fucking Caldari drones. Remind me to update that software myself. Sogeria, how are we coming with targetting?"

Sogeria: "With those jammers still out there we're screwed."

Undarum: "Fuck with a scrammer out there we're boned. Ikai I want everything you can get me from the shields. I'm releasing the TeL (Thermodynamic lock) on those mods. Burn them out if you have to. Get everything you can out of the AB. We need to get warp aligned yesterday."

Ikai: "Shield at 50% and dropping. Fuck me, we need to get out of here."

Idavolle: "Thank you Captain Obvious. Wasps have primaried tacklers. Do you want me to pull them?"

Undarum: "Until that scrammer is down, there's no point. We'll leave them if necessary."

Idavolle: "I could buy my own ship for the cost of those drones. Damn pod jockey."

Sogeria: "I would rather be poor and alive, myself. Targetting is back but sporadic. Use it or lose it."

Undarum: "Ida get ready to over-ride the drone A.I. and primary that scrammer. Sogeria, keep those jammers busy. I need to get a lock on that scram frig.

"Ikai, prep for system warp to planet 4, it's closest. The minute that scrammer is gone I want warp."

Computer: "ALERT: Shields at 10%"

Undarum: "People get it done. I don't want to have to fill out the paperwork to send to your governments. I'm sure you'd all rather live, too."

Ikai: "Shields are basically gone. Even overloading to breaking point they're blasting chunks out of our armour."

Idavolle: "Drones are nearly through that scrammer. His shields are down."

Ikai: "It's not enough, we're nearly out of armour."

Sogeria: "Warp bubble collapse 15 clicks out. He's green, apparently. Sleipnir mod advanced Minmatar Command Ship..."

Undarum: "A.K.A. The Cavalry."

Ikai: "Scram is down, warp bubble forming..."

Computer: "Hull breach, section 5. Damage control shielding in place."

Ikai: "We're at warp speed, planet 4 approaching fast."

Anuken: "What the fuck was that? Are you trying to get us killed?!"

[This is why most pod jockeys don't talk to their crews. Sometimes I don't blame them.]

Undarum: "Anuken you know as well as I do I could kill you far more easily without damaging my personal investments. Like cutting off your oxygen. Don't think for a second I planned to lose more than you'll ever earn in the form of a pirate-mod Cruiser."

Anuken: "What the fuck do you care? You make a fortune. You abandoned those Wasps like they were nothing. I could retire with that sort of money! Do you have any idea how much they are worth?"

Undarum: "Several hundred thousand ISK, Anuken. The same ISK I use to pay you lot, feed you and pay your bar tabs. Don't make me remind you about your personal... employability issues."

[At this point Anuken throws something large and heavy at the camera drone.]

Anuken: "Don't you fucking dare! You almost got us all killed!"

Ikai: "Anu, don't say something you'll regret. You're alive, be happy!"

Idavolle: "I hate to agree with Anuken, but he's right. That was a death trap. They screwed us."

Ikai: "Guys, much as I am happy you're finally getting along, but arguing with the Captain isn't good for you! He knows what he's..."

Undarum: "It's alright, Ikai. If they don't like the risks, they can leave. Of course that means they will lose their pay packet, and I will stop paying their debts.

"Remind me, Ida, how much does your brother owe?"

Idavolle: "You son of a bitch! How dare you check where I send my money!"

Undarum: "Please, Ida, let's remain civil."

Idavolle: "Fuck your civility. I don't need your money!"

Undarum: "Yes, you do. Your brother's debts are measured in ISK. That's a hell of a lot of money planet side. You know you can't get that sort of money from the Navy. I pay you well, but think about the other capsuleers out there. Reckon they'd pay as well for your expertise? Think you are any less likely to die with them?"

Idavolle: "You cold hearted bastard. I'm going to make you pay for that one day."

Undarum: "Try me, Ida. Just try me. Now, Anuken. Anything to add? Fancy your chances joining up with KK?"

Anuken: "You know I can't. Doesn't mean I can't work for some other pod jockey."

Undarum: "You can leave if you want, Anuken. I have never forced you to stay. Just think about the lengths I have gone to keep you alive compared with your former paymasters. Or should I remind you what happened when you were out in Alliance territory? The Raven?"

Anuken: "Shut your filthy Intaki mouth you Federation loving son-of-a-..."

Ikai: "Anu shut it!"

Idavolle: "Watch your tongue you Caldari cu..."

Undarum: "Quiet all of you. You're alive and well paid. Drinks are on me whilst I get our boat repaired. Ida, Anu, if you want to terminate your contracts, I'll be on the pod gantries making sure it isn't your section that gets sucked into space next time we undock."

Sogeria: "What about me? Why should I risk my life for you again, Undarum? Whoever you really are"

Undarum: "Sogeria, if I knew that...."

Sogeria: "Don't even try it. Do it again and I'll kill you with my bare hands."

Undarum: "On account of nearly killing you, I'm going to let that one go. But don't think..."

Sogeria: "Spare me your threats. I'll be at the nearest Gallentean restaurant if anyone wants me."

Ikai: "If everyone has got their mutiny out for the day, I need a stiff drink."

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Meet The Crew - N.S.S. Kitty Jay

My name is Undarum. Well, it as may as well be. That's my CONCORD call-sign through which I conduct all my capsuleer transactions. That isn't my given name, but I'm not insane enough to believe that those who might desire to harm my interests would hesitate in attacking my family back home.

So this log will keep little record of my pre-capsuleer life. I have no interest in endangering my family, and the people I deal with can be.... ruthless.

Still that doesn't mean I can't catalogue the actions of my crew. The stories of ships' crew are rarely published on GalNet or elsewhere. The few that are seldom have a happy ending, and frankly given the nature of space travel, that is hardly surprising. I might be "immortal," but my crews are not. I am constantly conscious of this fact, despite the fact that the death of space crews is a daily occurance.

N.S.S. Kitty Jay, Moa hull, Gila modified Cruiser

Drone A.I. Specialist - Idavolle Esseron

Idavolle is a straight laced Gallentean (yes, that does happen!) I have most lost this class of crewmen given that I have spent many months training my drone specialisation, and therefore I tend to be least close to them.

Nonetheless we remain cordial, if somewhat frosty. We rarely agree on much, especially given his personal distaste for the Caldari. Still, he accepts that the Caldari pay as well as anyone else and that blowing them up is bad for business. Doesn't stop him from rolling his eyes when I get a fine for contraband smuggling in Federation space. All this said, he's good at his job. He knows drones inside out and helps keep them dishing out the damage. He may be Gallentean but he understands all drones equally well.

Launcher Ops - Anuken Ogimo

This guy is a real hard nosed ass. Damn good at his job, but an ass. He worked for Lai Dai watch for years, and was blacklisted from Caldari corps for, (I paid good money to find this out,) beating the living daylights out his Captain for flying whilst off his face. Unfortunately for him, this was before Heth's little revolution, and this particular Captain was very well connected. Although Lai Dai was largely free from corruption, it was not unblemished, and when he was blacklisted the watch dutifully fired him.

This blemish against his name has never been rectified. Heth's revoultion never helped him, and he is understandably bitter. He's worked with some of the roughest capsuleers in the past who have never even bothered to learn his name.

He's hard nosed and pretty much thinks I'm the devil incarnate. If he believed in the concept. He hates that I pay his bills, feed and clothe him. This said I can't replace him. He's damn good at maintaining those ruddy launchers.

I have the specs hardwired into my brain. But that doesn't mean I can always oil them, load them, and work out all the kinks easily. He does all that for me and is ruddy good at it. I don't necessarily like the man, but he is too good at this job, and follows orders unquestioningly. He keeps me on my toes, and I respect that.

Electronics Specialist - Sogeria Adoutte

Ah, the enigmatic Sogeria. She is quite the mystery. Were it not for the absence of the tell tale socket, I would swear she's a capsuleer. Incredibly intelligent, I can find virtually no record of her. She's clearly of Intaki descent, although she will not confirm nor deny this. The only employment records I could find said she worked for the Syndicate, which certainly supports the theory. Besides that, she basically doesn't exist.

Her account is only ever used to deposit money by me and it is swiftly moved into a Syndicate account. I have no idea if she knows I know this. She rarely admits or acknowledges anything and is eternally cold and distant. All I know is she works pretty much any Electronics system, including my incredibly important targetting scanners, with the precision of a capsuleer.

Mechanic/Engineering Specialist - Ikai Tarrko

A sorrier story I have yet to hear. Ikai is a Caldari Deteis so-called "Tube Child." He lived in an horrific Caldari ophanage, until he was 12. Rather sensibly, he ran away. Perhaps insensibly, he ran straight into the arms of the Guristas pirate organisation. Now I have no great love of the Guristas, but I do fly Gurista modified ships. They treated him relatively well, he even tried for capsuleer status. He failed, sadly, but he still elevated his understanding and running of space ships, especially capsule fitted vessels.

He left the organisation later in life, on relatively good terms. He is still defensive of the Guristas and doesn't like it when we open fire on their vessels. He did a stint in the Khanid Navy as a launcher expert, even though he had never really dealt with launcher ops. He learned quick, though, but became incredibly enamoured of ships defensive systems. When it comes to defence, this guy is a true genius. Shields, armour, damage control, hull plating, all of it. I found him Dodixie, where he had fled after he was discharged from the Khanid Royal Navy for forging his employment history.

He was just desperate enough to be employed by just about any capsuleer who would take him. He tried the same phoney documents on me, a ballsy move. He knew I was a capsuleer and, given our reputation, could probably buy and sell him several times over. I quickly debunked his phoney documentation and got the real story out of him after some light threats.

Given I was flying a Guristas ship, I hired him on the spot. I needed some body with hutzpah, and a working knowledge of defensive systems. As it turned out he's deeply introspective, and we became friends. This was quite unintended. Becoming friends with my crew is usually against my personal work ethic. As a rule it is quite unprofitable, and I need to stay profitable if I'm ever going to change anything. I'm an idealist, but that doesn't mean I'm not a capitalist. It is a necessity.

Nonetheless, we became friends. I am constantly aware that, were I to lose my ship, I'd lose my one non-capsuleer friend. He is not immortal. I would very much prefer to keep him alive.

These are the people I depend on every day to help keep my boat sailing. They are under my care, be they friends or cautious allies, we are utterly reliant upon one another for our lives.