Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Interceptors Are Our Business And Business Is Good

I embraced the philosophy of the jump clone for the first time.

The principal, founding tenet of the capsuleer is the separation of mind from body: treating the body as merely a disposable vessel that carries the consciousness. If that body gets damaged or destroyed, just insert the consciousness into a new one and carry on.

The jump clone facility allows the capsuleer to maintain more than one vessel just as we all have a hangar with more than one spacecraft in it.

I was resistant to the idea of having more than one vessel for my mind, as I'd got used to the idea of there being more than one version of me consecutively, but having multiple iterations of me concurrently seemed like a passport to psychosis.


It's not like I'm inhabiting all of them at the same time with one mind in multiple bodies, like the opposite of schizophrenia. Also, having a bunch of exploration-focused cyberware in my head that is worth more than the GDP of half the provinces of Mishi IV had inadvertently made me risk-averse. I had become too comfortable with my 'back office' POS-maintenance role in what is actually a lowsec pirate alliance.

Then, one recent evening, in our corporation's comms channel, Nizzle Ma said: "Why don't you come on any of our roams?"

I couldn't, wouldn't, didn't want to get away with answering: "Because my head's too valuable and I don't want to get killed and besides you lot are always going on about doctrines that change every five minutes?"

Then the boss announced an upcoming interceptor roam. This I could do by using the jump clone which every other capsuleer does as a matter of course. I already had Infomorph Psychology (jump clone capability) on my training roster but had never used it. Interceptors were no big deal.

Fast forward a few days...

I now have two bodies. The expensive and intelligent one that can scan down relics-'n'-wormholes from light-years away in the blink of an eye, was now a void under stasis somewhere else. This unaugmented body that I was in now, a 'clean clone', technically a meathead and with a new willingness to do smack talk and take risks, was in Nandeza with a new Malediction, waiting to launch off to the deep nullsec of all points south of Khanid - Querious, Delve, Period Basis - in what is known as a small-gang roam. There was no fixed objective in mind, just the spreading of the word.

The word of Mortum Ravagers. We're here. In yo' face mo'fos 'n bitches of Southern Null. We comin' fo yo territory...

So, da crew: me, Tryce Jaor (FC/boss), Gettosmurf, Nizzle Ma, Marc Moonglow, nitereper, Gryndor, Serigil, MrTheGeoff and Sul Glass, all set off with fire in our hearts and a determination to not take any of it seriously. My job would be 'long point', otherwise known as the use of a Warp Disruptor module with 20 kilometres range. Maledictions are apparently very good at it. I on the other hand am not.

[Sidebar: quantum uncertainty produces some inconsistency in the generation of neuropathways in a new clone which can have personality-altering effects. None of the below was technically me. Or is that just an excuse to learn smack talk in Local?]

Delve and Querious

"a wretched hive of scum and villainy"
Nothing to report for the first few systems. Nothing even in the notorious choke-point/tollbooth of border system 1-SMEB. The interceptor routine: send someone through to scout. We dive in behind and fan out: check out asteroid belts and Cosmic Anomalies. Look for smug, complacent nullsec alliance fodder. Look for ratters, independents and 'neutrals'. Look for miners. Look for everybody.

There were a few brushes with possibility. Odds were weighed. Sometimes the strongest army elects to not fight.

In the meantime and during these fast-moving system scans, I found some extraordinary Covenant facilities. Predictable, since Delve and the OK-FEM region is the core territory of the Covenant, but I'd never seen anything like this before.

These non-standard stargates were something new too.

I lagged a system-or-two behind the crew a couple of times because of my compulsion to look at the scenery and document everything. The Cauldron, receding in my 'mirrors' with every stargate, was no bigger than my hand at this distance. The Cauldron is home, where my science-oriented and more sensible other body currently resided: the one that enjoys culture, fine ale, reads books without images in them, has a social conscience and is recreationally bi-curious with two women (Taltha in Conoban and Alisu on Mishi IV. You've read about them before). This body on the other hand, wants to drop 200 million ISK on a pair of those GDN-9 'Nightstalker' goggles that are so cutting-edge. This body wants to try boosters and insult people.

Eventually we tracked down a lone, unattended Mobile Tractor Unit. We shot it. It was a start.

We found a 'VNI' - a Vexor Navy Issue - trying to take down a Covenant facility. We rudely interrupted him and shot him.

Then we shot him again. He may have been 'afk' as he didn't seem to notice...

We moved on...

Period Basis

"It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there..."

This is the region with one of the most southerly planetary systems in all of New Eden. The region extends out from the rest of the cluster like a swamp vine tendril. Its remoteness reminded me of something I'd read about during my time in Hedion University. An ancient expression: ultima thule. Something about 'the borders of the known world'.

Period Basis is also full of bubbles.

Warp Disruptor Bubbles: the visible manifestations of the over-inflated capsuleer ego that thinks it can outlive eternity. Newsflash: outside the capsule you're as mortal as any meathead. All I have to do is cap yo' ass in yo' sleep and you as dead as dead!

Then I got delayed again and arrived late to one of the parties in the form of this guy's capsule:

He had a lot of headware. This is exactly what I wanted to avoid.

Tryce found a target of opportunity in the form of a Prowler apparently chilling in orbit around Y-CWQY VI.

The Prowler's pilot had a cloaking device available to him, but he wasn't using it. Now he's chilling for good. A bio-tombstone. Orbiting frozen meat. Shame about the wasted planetary interaction equipment. A whole command center. Those skills!

Later, we negotiated the most committed of gate-camps using brilliant strategy and teamwork.

We evaded superior forces like ghosts -

  - and we reached the end of the stargate line in MVUO-F.


Now that I'm reporting on this roam from my other, more sensible augmented body, I can be more artistic and scientifically-literate about the experience.

There are other stars to the galactic south of Period Basis that are still within the gravitational bounds of the New Eden cluster, but they are few in number and not on the stargate network. We know virtually nothing about them except what we can discern through distant survey. Some may even be inhabited by an unknown pre-Dark Ages fragment of humanity that speaks no known language. There may be a generation ship inbound from one of them right now that is in for a hell of a shock when it eventually arrives somewhere like this and meets a capsuleer with a 'NBSI' policy.

This place is nothing like, for example, Domain with its warm, comforting and enveloping bronze nebula that you can barely see outside-of. Period Basis is also known for its high concentration of pulsars: ticking clocks that never slow down because their 'tick' is a lighthouse beam of deadly radiation emission. The Vapor Sea is the only lighthouse pointing the way back to civilisation. The Caroline's Star Remnant doesn't cover even a tenth as many arcseconds of diameter as it does from Vale of the Silent. The Cauldron is not even visible. This is the end of the road - the end of the world.

Pulsars are the product of core-collapse supernovae which also go on to form nebulae from which other stars are formed. Those ancient supernovae here in Period Basis may have triggered the formation of the New Eden cluster. We owe our existence to them.

* * *

Nandeza Or Bust - Last One Back Buys The Beers

We had set out in the full expectation of returning by way of hostile action and the pod express. Two of us ended the session as 'gate camp sacrifices' (because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few), but the rest of us unexpectedly survived, which was actually inconvenient as we all had to get back to Nandeza in time to do mundane stuff like holovid boxset binges, do the laundry, clean the quarters and feed the fedos etc. etc.

On the way back to Khanid, Tryce experienced system malfunctions and fell behind, so the rest of us took refuge for a while in 'Barf's Burger Barn' in the C3N-3S system in Delve and waited for him to catch up. This station was under Freeport status as a result of its home system being contested, which, as it happens, is nothing new.

A bit of history: Barf's Burger Barn is actually a historic outpost as it was the focus of one of the biggest 'sov' battles in New Eden history during YC112. Incumbents Nulli Secunda and Southern Coalition fought Goonswarm Federation and Pandemic Legion for possession of this station among other system assets in a battle that involved capitals, Titans and up to 1,800 capsuleers. You can read about it on the EN24 service's archive.

In the interests of absorbing a bit of that history I would have taken a look around here, but time was against us so we docked in temporary berths and remained jacked-in. After Tryce caught up, we undocked and all went our separate ways in an informal race back to Nandeza.

At the notorious 1-SMEB border, I evaded a freshly-formed gate camp that wasn't there when we passed through two hours earlier (interceptors totally rule), and because I'd cocked-up my routing a couple of times in an attempt to program 'avoidance systems' into the nav system, it was actually me that was the last ship back to Nandeza.

Beers were on me.

* * *


The reason why interceptor roams work is that they are the purest form of piracy - fast, nimble vessels that operate under no political agenda, and in small co-ordinated raiding parties seeking out targets of pure opportunity. This doctrine is exactly the same as the method used by those pirate ships that used to sail the seas of Athra. If you're an Amarrian you'll have read about them in school.

Furthermore, now I've left my sensation-seeking, 200-million-ISK-goggles-wearing gung-ho combat head in Nandeza and I'm back in my rational and sci-curious explorer head in Danera, I'm lobbying the boss to make interceptors our 'go-to' ship. Because they rule. I've also done some recruitment propaganda which you'll soon see on holo-boards, forums, station dock atriums and even your favourite trade hubs. Come down to Khanid and join us!

Finally, the jump clone has liberated me from risk-aversion and eliminated the need to crawl light-years across New Eden in order to do something. Now I can go to sleep in one place and wake up in another.

I think of it as taking a holiday from myself.

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