Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On The Impermanence of Death


I awake with a start - my body tingles, as if a jolt of electricity just passed through it, which in fact it did.

"Cassandra, take it easy. Lie still for a moment." The voice comes from behind me and out of my field of vision. The voice has an electronic overtone. The room is white, there are strong lights above me and I'm inside a transparent tube of some kind. I can smell disinfectant. There is a humming sound and I can see the transparent tube sliding away from me. There is a draught of fresh air which replaces the smell.

"Try moving your arms and legs Cassandra." The voice is clearer now, right behind me. It moves into my field of vision. It's a medical droid.

"Welcome to your brand new body." It speaks reassuringly in a female voice because studies have proven people are more receptive, or something like that.

"Take it easy Cassandra, your conscience has had quite a shock."

So this is it. This is what it's like.

"Your memories and all your personality and skillbase is intact and the transfer worked very well. We estimate 99.746% success. The missing percentage will be trivial memories that weren't important to your functioning. Can you remember what happened yet?"

Snapshots. Disconnected memories reassembling. A feeling of concern; a feeling of impending doom, of being stitched up, a feeling of helplessness and inevitability - of being unable to do anything about it. A feeling of disappointment. Rage. Hatred.

"In a day or two you'll remember everything. You were in the Sagain system in the Tash-Murkon region. Your ship was attacked and destroyed by a capsuleer pirate. You were - ganked? Isn't that the term? Your capsule ejected safely but was also destroyed by the pirate. You are back in the Conoban system in Hedion University's revival facility, in accordance with your contract with us."

The droid didn't use the term 'clone' presumably out of some kind of delicate sensibility. I am, nevertheless, a clone.

The next day...

I'm back in my Quarters at the Hedion University in Conoban. I have a splitting headache, and the med-techs in the revival facility have given me a series of medications to "help reassemble my memory". My body is exactly the same. They even reproduced my hairstyle and the tattoos round my right eye that I only had done last week. I remember everything now: I was en-route from Khanid Prime to Saminer, one of the southernmost systems in the Empire, to take a look at the Traumark Installation. Saminer is at the end of a stargate cul-de-sac, a depopulated dead-end. Saminer and the preceding system on the route, Sagain, are in lowsec (0.3 and 0.4 respectively), so this was a way of gaining experience, of stretching myself. Exposing myself to risk.

I did not expect a free passage through. Nevertheless, I did the due diligence: the Dotlan EVEMaps service, community messageboards, Corp commlink, the Star Map's 'Ships Destroyed in Last Hour' function etc. to build up a picture of how busy and dangerous these two systems were. Any lowsec rookie who doesn't do this is doing themselves a disservice.

I jumped into Sagain. There were only a handful of ships in-system. What I should have done is warped straight over to the other stargate to Saminer. Risk management. No, I wanted to hang out for a bit. I wanted to dock at the TransStellar place and pick up some equipment. I didn't have to, mind, but I headed over there anyway. There were two ships by the station. I thought, are they station-camping? There's hardly anybody else here.

Then the targeting warning sounded, Point Break was pounded by fire, heat and light, and not more than a few seconds later, I see the Capsule Ejected warning. There may have been another flag that indicated a response from CONCORD. After the event. Typical...

Then a dreamstate. Then the white light of the revival facility in Conoban. My original body, the body I was born in, the body that emerged from my mother's womb, is likely still floating in orbit around Saminer VIII as a piece of eternal flotsam like so much of the pollution that humanity generates. Now I am an almost perfect copy of my original self. As far as my thought processes go, in terms of my personality, it's mostly all the same. The revival process is so good, it even recreates the feeling of shame and humiliation - the feeling of defeat.

When I got back to my Quarters, I had two messages. One needless and terse two-liner from the University reminding me of what I already knew:

And another from CONCORD, confirming that the agency had reacted to the bastard's attack, and that I now have a permanent killright on her, with no statute of limitations. A licence, to take the bastard down on sight, anywhere in New Eden:

I looked up my death on the zkillboard service - a macabre league table of violent narcissism. I found my death and the details of the bastard that killed me:

Zkillboard is actually useful in that you can build up a profile of your antagonist based on their statistics. What this shitbag does is repeatedly camp out in quiet lowsec systems for hours at a time and preys on passing trade, most likely rookies, outgunning them using overwhelming weapon superiority. You can see from zkillboard that I wasn't the only one who this shitbag killed on this day. So what you have here is a boring, unimaginitive psychotic for whom the killing is like a permanently unfulfilling conveyor belt of need, but who needs the odds to be overwhelmingly on their terms.

Now I know what the missing fraction of a percent is from the transfer of my mind into a new body. I have been cleansed of it - relieved of the burden of self-preservation. I now see a clarity of purpose forming. I see a future in bounty hunting. Detective work. Hunt them down, kill them a few times, then find them in a station and cap them in their sleep, ending their suffering once and for all, because capsuleers are only immortal in a capsule.

As of now this is a Crusade. I tried to observe the Sacred Flesh Doctrine just like Empress Jamyl, but at the end of the day even she found it inconvenient when the situation changed.

Later on I got another message from Aire Arryns. Another terse one-liner. It said: "I heard you died."

I replied: "Yes".

He responded with one word: "Good".

Thursday, 19 February 2015

They Sing...

I heard rumours on the nets that the 'Unidentified Structures' were now de-cloaked and visible for all to see, and that this latest event is coincidental with the appearance of the Jove/Drifters. The last and only time I'd seen one of the structures was in Mora. I had business there and it was only one jump away. I set off...

Previously the structure in Mora had appeared semi-cloaked just the one time, implying a temporary presence. It seemed to have disappeared like all the others. Now we know they were there the whole time.

The structure is enormous. Whatever power is being generated in there must be not-of-this-universe because the tower looks like it's all heat sink. If others report they are impervious to damage, then they have to be made of some kind of hyper-dense degenerate stellar material like in a neutron star, or even exotic matter itself. What surveys have been done on these? Has anyone measured the universal gravitational constants in the vicinity to see if it affects them? Do the towers conform to Euclidian geometry? I took Quantum Mechanic right up close to it to see if it would respond to my presence but it either didn't know I was there, or more likely, didn't care in the slightest. Another thing: this one is emitting something just like the others because when you get right up close to it, you can hear a sound vaguely like chiming bells that repeats periodically. From around 100 km distance though, the chiming is no longer audible and is replaced by a pulsing emission repeating every six seconds. It sounds exactly like a radar pulse.

The implications of these towers and the sequence of events surrounding them are terrifying. The appearance of just one of these towers caused the heads of all the trillions of people in New Eden to turn towards them. Now we know they exist throughout the entire cluster, and were put there at some unknown point in the past without our knowledge. They could have been here for decades.

The power balance in the cluster is going to change... 

Sleeper Structures and the Drifters

I saw one of the “Unidentified Structures” in Mora, on the same day that I started flight ops again after spending a few weeks in one of the Hedion Universities. I couldn’t believe it, I’d missed the appearance of Caroline’s Star and thought I was going to miss these too, but there it was. The next day it had disappeared. The word among the community throughout the cluster is that these gigantic towers appeared throughout the entire cluster, but only randomly and temporarily, disappearing again after a short period of time.

Now fast-forward another week and there’s a consensus forming that they aren’t actually anything to
do with the Circadian Sleeper drones that were always found accompanying them, but that they are listening devices planted throughout the cluster, and may be associated with the Jove. Now we have evidence of the sighting of this:

This is a battleship that's been sighted somewhere near Jove space, believed to be the product of a Jove splinter faction that has been called the Drifters. Why they've been called that, I have no idea, because if they are the reappearance of the highly-advanced cyborg Jove race, then drifting will be the last thing on their machine minds.The ship has an unknown means of propulsion. The speculation is that those prongs are responsible for its propulsion by interacting directly with the quantum foam of spacetime itself. It takes the power of ten suns to do that kind of thing. That's pure Kardashev Type III-level civilisation.

So we have three events, all connected, with the first of those events - Caroline’s Star - occurring at the same time of year as the Old Earth custom that was called Christmas, which was something to do with the appearance of a ‘Star of Bethlehem’ that preceded the arrival of a deity.

Are the Drifters actually our Old Earth ancestors that have finally found us and are far in advance of us?

Are the Drifters our Gods?

Sunday, 15 February 2015

First Post...

OK, this blog is going to be about a rookie player getting to grips with EVE Online. I first became aware of EVE years ago, but for various reasons I never got round to giving it a try until December 2014. Previously, time, space, the wrong equipment, different interests etc. got in the way.

I did the trial account and yes, I was impressed and wanted to continue, but I came up against what I've learned is a frequent criticism: the steep learning curve and the easy familiarity of experienced players (sometimes manifesting as a kind of contempt for noobs) acting as a barrier.

Then I thought no! This game is too good to pass up and ignore - it's the kind of game you've been wanting to play for years. So at the end of January I subscribed properly, dived into this vast world and went to work creating my character, and it turns out it's not been as difficult as I thought and that the learning curve is not quite as steep as people think it is. This blog is also going to prove you don't necessarily need a maxed-out cutting edge system to run it on, because I certainly haven't. I have to run set the graphics for performance rather than absolute quality. But EVE still looks great.

From now on, this blog will be in character, first person only, and from the perspective of Ni-Kunni rookie capsuleer Cassandra Habalu, as she tries to forge her own path through the New Eden Cluster.

Here she goes...