Monday, 22 August 2016

The Price Of Safety In Aridia Is One Trillion ISK

Sisters of EVE Academy Station, Erindur VII, Metropolis Region, 8/16/118 - 23:44 hrs

A few days ago I received the feed below from the boss of my previous corporation, Outdated Host Productions [PHP1], over in Khanid. At the time, I was idling in the Sisters of EVE Academy station which orbits the second moon of Erindur VII, which is on the outer eastern edge of the Minmatar Republic: a region I have not spent a great deal of time in. There are semi-obvious reasons for that, namely that I originate from the Amarr Empire and this is the territory of its most deadly enemy, but more about that later.

I was in one of the station's lounge/bars which at this hour was populated mostly by identically-dressed SoE apprentices who all maintained a kind of passive exclusion zone around me as if I, a capsuleer, was too exotic to approach. In another time I might have engaged with them, but not today. I was thinking about my new ship. I was sat at an elaborately-carved wooden table adjacent to a large armoured glass picture window that facilitated a commanding view of the station's docking bay, where I could see the ship I'd brought here: a Caldari Buzzard. I hadn't used a Buzzard before because I'd only just qualified in it. This was a bit of a test op so I needed to prepare for it.

That test op was to be another relic-gathering excursion into null-security space, this time in the Buzzard. Erindur was my staging system into the 'far east'. From a cosmic perspective, the system is actually in an interesting area of space, being on the edge of the blood-red Metropolis/Heimatar nebulosity that is all around you everywhere you go in the Republic, and must be the fuel for Mataris' constant state of rage. The Konora system is also nearby, from where the miniature Ginnungagap Black Hole is supposed to be visible, (noteworthy: there is some dispute in the scientific community over whether the black hole has in fact evaporated and ceased to exist, or whether it is in a dormant and invisible state).

Something else that was new to me other than the Buzzard was the fabulous fish dish I was shovelling into this newly-jump-cloned body that I'd returned to after pre-positioning the ship here a few days earlier. Eating something for the first time in a new body is an odd sensation, because infomorph transfer reliability tolerance means your sense of taste always changes at a barely-noticeable level. Sometimes it is enhanced, sometimes it is diminished. They never tell you about that in capsuleer school. Matari cuisine, by the way, is universally dreck, which is one of the other reasons why I was not docked in a Matari-operated station...

There are actually two SoE stations in Erindur. The station I was docked in was an old Amarr Trade Post, no-doubt dating from the era of occupation, before the Minmatar Rebellion and the formation of the Republic. I expect it still survives today as the obvious edifice of a hated regime because it is in a relatively remote part of space, and also when the Sisters of EVE moved in at some point and established an Academy, it became effectively neutral territory.

Sisters of EVE Academy, Erindur VII - Metropolis

The consequence of the SoE's presence in here then, is an outwardly-Amarr station but with an overwhelmingly non-Amarrian population that has changed large parts of the station's interior design, like all the former churches and chapels being repurposed into lecture theatres. There is not so much strident architectural piety any more; corridors lined with empty plinths where statues used to stand; comfy chairs instead of pulpits; holovids instead of hymns; actual intoxicating beverages; former slave pens used as storage rooms or apprentice dormitories after considerable decorative improvement.

This bar I was sat in overlooking the docking bay was a former chapel library, and all the religious and scriptural iconography on the walls had been removed and replaced with various holofeeds, animated images of the cosmos, or portraits of noteworthy Sisters of EVE (thereby replacing one form of religious iconography with another). One of those portraits was of ex-Sister Silphy en Diabel herself and it didn't even have 'Wanted' beneath it. What was that about? Have the SoE forgiven her?

In accordance with its previous role, all the furniture in this ex-chapel-library-turned-bar was even made of actual wood cut from real trees in the forests of Erindur IV, instead of that ultra high-tech nano-assembler stuff you find in other stations that emerges from the floor on command ('chair please...'). It all had real grain in it and it had no embedded holo or tech or anything. The stone floor was something else entirely; a spectacular indulgence in a space station and a typically ostentatious statement by its previous owners.

However, a particular ambient vibe that this station's cultural fusion could not hide behind the usual station-noise you get anywhere, was the ongoing subtext of undisclosed secrets permeating its atmosphere that all SoE stations have, especially those in Thera (are they ever going to tell us how they got there first?). 

My other reason for being here in this Sisters of EVE station was because my former mentor, Aire Arryns (lecturer in Exploration at the Hedion University station in Conoban), once told my class in that fire-and-brimstone way of his: "At some point in your capsuleer careers, you're going to go to the Republic. I'd rather you didn't, personally, but if you do go there, do not ever, ever entrust your infomorph to a Matari, otherwise your consciousness could be transferred into a fedo. It's happened. I've seen it. They make it look like an accident, but it never is. It's always about reprisal.  Do not ever entrust your ship to Matari station techs, otherwise expect sabotage. Do not fly Matari ships either, because they are all garbage. Until we can Reclaim them again, Vitoc is the only way. It is the Amarr way!"

He went on to label all Matari stations in the Republic as enemy territory to an Amarrian capsuleer, which is technically absolutely true as we're still officially at war, although I've said it before: as capsuleers we're supposed to take a cosmic perspective and rise above all this nationalism. Not all of us do (not all of us want to), but at least we do in my line of work. In fact none other than Signal Cartel top boss and 'Space Mom' Mynxee is a Brutor, but she doesn't act like one (in fact Mynxee has this ultra-calm demeanour that belies a murderous Brutor past, and it comes across as if she's been to the future and has returned to tell us all not to worry and that everything will be OK. It's very reassuring...).

Arryns was merely trying to scare us into vigilance towards baseliners' default nationalist programming, so this is the real reason why I only dock in neutral stations on the very rare occasions I actually operate in this region, because when it comes to baseliners, you just can't be sure.

* * *

So I was chilling in this ex-chapel lounge/bar with its stone floor and wooden furniture, eating a specially-imported Luminairian javelinfish, which was Sister Alitura of Arnon's idea ("Tell them I sent you," she'd said, "be sure to ask for the fin spike, and let it sit for 13 minutes before you eat it otherwise it might kill you").

I was also reading Emekur's classic Origin of Life, Minimal Convergent Traits and Biosignatures on my datapad. No, that's not true. I can't lie: I was actually reading a trashy Impetus celeb feed called In Your Face, which headlined the acrimonious twelfth divorce of Synchellian film star Myriestene Mahatta. I can't get enough of it. I went for the top-level cluster-wide subscription so I'm gonna use it. It's expensive, but I can afford it so what's the problem? I can't always be into science!

So I was sitting here among the background station noise and subdued foreground chatter of all the SoE apprentices around me when the message below chimed in on my datapad. It was [PHP1] boss Crystalline Entity with an update on the constant changes in the Khanid-Querious-Delve-Aridia situation and [PHP1]/Darwinism's part in it. I'm still on excellent terms with my previous crew and I always look forward to updates from their part of the cluster.

Considerable attention has now been focused on this volatile sector of the cluster in recent weeks after the winding-down of 'World War Bee' and the defeat of Goonswarm. When information leaked out that Goonswarm were co-ordinating a massive move operation to the Delve region, feeds all over the entire cluster lit up with speculation about whether the region I used to operate in would become the next big conflict zone. When Goonswarm's planned route to Delve through Aridia was also leaked, my own personal take on it was a) wondering whether all the locals including [PHP1]/Darwinism would get in on this, and b) how in Divinity's Edge would Goonswarm get past the elite denizens of Aridia - LowSechnaya Sholupen - intact?

Based on Crystalline's bit of inside information below (it's the raw feed), it appears that every alliance really does have its price:

[AmarrCertifiedNewsTextFeed/Gehi IX/Royal Khanid Navy/In-Station Associate Corporation Channel:[PHP1] mode:public-feed/yes/no/.../NODE: ALL] [autoforward: NODE: Metropolis/soe/recipients:0022866cassandrahabalu/]

[msg: 8/16/118 - 1324]

[Subj: Goons! Querious!]

Over the mid-year period, Khanid was unsurprisingly pretty quiet. The usual unfortunate stream of hapless industrialists and mission runners attempting the Ashmarir run dried-up and the Darwinism pirates grew frustrated at the lack of action on all fronts. Even the Mid-Khanid Coalition of JIHADASQUAD (led by the renegade Musashibou Benkei) seemed unusually quiet.

Then the announcement spluttered over the fluid routers: ‘Goonswarm are leaving Saranen and heading to Delve!’ The wave of excitement was palpable, a slew of bookings at the Vezila III ice resort of Vritilia were cancelled as the capsuleers of Darwinism and Brute Force Solutions cancelled their planetside excursions and booked shuttles back to the orbiting spaceport.

Goon interceptors, transport ships and other vessels of war started heading south from Saranen to Sakht in southern Aridia. To the surprise of all capsuleers the infamous capital and supercapital hunting alliance LowSechnaya Sholupen (LSH) granted 'blue' status to Goonswarm. Persistent rumours and reports from reliable sources all say that Goonswarm paid LSH over a trillion ISK for this privilege.

Darwinism's capsuleers manned the ‘barricades’ of Ashmarir and Perbhe [entry systems into Khanid], and deployed cloaky hunting ships throughout the region. Goons started to die… oh-so-many dead. Wrecks and corpses littered those entrance systems into Khanid. Where Goons go, others follow: the latest arrivals are DARKNESS, Short Bus Syndicate and TEST alliance all on deployment. Circle of Two is reportedly on the way as well.

Two interesting developments in the nearby null-security space was that the Infamous alliance was haemorrhaging pilots, and the Play Hard and Pray Harder alliance was successfully dismantling the Querious Fight Club coalition [QFC]. Information on the collapse of QFC was hard to come by, as there was a propaganda war raging across the regional news outlets but it was safe to assume that QFC would not fold unless there was good reason to do so.

For Darwinism this led to an opportunity to take the H-6HGD constellation in Querious once again. The station in A2-V27 has been unable to be captured due to dreadful timers and other groups third-partying the station. However, 03L-95 and A3-LOG have been upgraded a little and pilots have used the opportunities to make ISK during quieter periods. Darwinism fully expects to lose this space in due course to Play Hard and Pray Harder or another one of the alliances that is headed towards the area.

The positive side of Infamous collapsing was that Brute Force Solutions spotted a Hel supercarrier moving up towards Khanid. Darwinism pilots responded and after a fruitless grid search in 0-W the Hel then jumped to Upt where it was probed and tackled by Darwinism probers and Heavy Interdiction pilots. Heavier assets were brought in and it died shortly thereafter.

Later LSH called upon Darwinism again to tackle and then kill Simon Riley of ex-Darwinism traitors Nekogami Band in his Aeon in Neda. [PHP1]'s Quantum Finish caught the ship with his Heavy Interdictor.

Khanid will never be at the forefront of cluster politics, because its inhabitants are dreadful pirates with a myriad of personality disorders, but it is their wasteful destructive personality that make transiting the region a dangerous experience for the careless traveller.


[this media release is brought to you by Amarr Certified News Capsuleer Liaison. Amarr Victor!]

One trillion ISK? One trillion ISK!!

The situation changes so fast over there that the feed above is already technically out of date, as other more recent reports indicate that the Querious Fight Club coalition has collapsed, making the region basically a free-for-all. 

Unbelievably, even Signal Cartel has interests in what's happening in Querious because until this week we had docking rights in the YB7B-8 constellation thanks to the Affirmative alliance (another Querious Fight Club member) holding sovereignty over it.

Just a couple of days after I received the above from Crystalline, and after I'd left Erindur and was deep into my excursion into the eastern nullsec regions, I got notification through the corporation's private channel that the instability in Querious had caused Affirmative to withdraw, and in the process of doing so they had transferred the sovereignty of the entire constellation to Signal Cartel!

Signal Cartel has sov! Without firing a single shot! Citadels! TCUs!

Signal Cartel Territorial Claim Unit! Actual sov!
(cam drone still: Ristora Arbosa)

Affirmative's transferral of sov to us was a political statement aimed at the other residents of Querious. Our sov will not last; in accordance with our pacifist credo we will not defend it, and Signal Cartel was never interested in holding sov anyway because everybody knows it's not our thing, so probably by the time you read this, somebody else's logo will be on that TCU.

But it cannot be denied: WE HAD SOV!

If Signal Cartel can have sov in Querious, then anything can happen. Expect to hear any time soon that Jamyl is alive and well, and living in Querious.

In 'Squirrel Central'.


  1. Thanks for the contribution as always - any time you want to do another one just say the word!