Sunday 6 November 2022

Funeral in Palas

'They don't make 'em like this anymore'

Overheard at the Novae Prismaticae, the Girani-Fa system, Genesis, during 03-YC124

The Armageddon battleship is actually a bit dreck when viewed dispassionately by military analysts, because its age and general obsolescence mean that it is outclassed in its category by virtually everything else in the cluster.

But I own one, and I have a soft spot for it. 

I got this one at the beginning of YC124. It was for sale on contract in the Villore system, which is deep within the Fed. What was an Amarrian battleship doing there? I felt a completely irrational desire to rescue it. According to the contract, this one was stripped of all modules and equipment.

It was ancient. It had been used by the Navy for a long time, most notably during the Drifter invasion, then struck-off charge shortly after and sold to the private sector, where it passed through a few different owners before ending up in Villore being sold to me. 

It was worn out when I got it. Bringing it back to Empire space was an experience. I contracted a temporary skeleton crew to make sure it did not fall apart in transit to the Novae Prismaticae, our administrative HQ and Astrahus in Girani-Fa, where I based it at first. On the way there it made bizarre and unsettling noises that manifested through my auditory nerve inputs as rattling and twanging noises when it used its warp drive, and I feared it would not decelerate from hyperspace on more than one occasion as it did not always answer the helm - the 'helm' being in my head of course - which led me to suspect an extremely cheap and dodgy capsuleer conversion by engineers not familiar with the type, probably the work of the Fed, who let's face it are preoccupied with self-indulgence most of the time.

Those engineers hadn't even done a bridge conversion on it. As a capsuleer you don't need a bridge because you don't use it and you don't need the crew, so normally all the panels and terminals and chairs in there get removed and blanked off and you just end up with a big room with a scenic view. Not this one. Neglect was obvious all over the ship. Whoever had stripped it of equipment under its last ownership had been quick and wilfully careless: wiring looms hanging like vines, missing sections of hull armor, exposed pipes and ducting, unshielded compartments, life-expired components, desecrated altars, leaking cryogenic tanks, strange blood stains on the ceilings of the crew messes, inconsistent artificial gravity, human remains (!). I could go on...

I consulted its extensive maintenance history - extensive - and according to the Navy's registries its former name when it was commissioned was TES Lux Sidra, so I decided to use that name again, to resurrect it. We're given special dispensation in LUMEN to use the prefix so it seemed appropriate.

So I based the ship in Girani-Fa for a couple of months while our engineers went to work on it. I already had a bunch of Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings for it stored in my hangar so I bought some more, and spent some time shaking it down doing some missions for the local authorities in Genesis, because I was working up to something...

* * *

The Kor-Azor region, three months later 

In the Societas we are mostly free to do our own thing when there are no major alliance strategic operations going on, so I subcontracted myself to the Ministry of Internal Order, where I found myself involved in a security/policing action in the Kor-Azor region involving yet another dispute between a couple of the Houses Minor. This is what they do all the time. All that political manoeuvring for favour at Court. But this one was serious as there were allegations of treason and collaborations with Sansha's Nation. It had to be serious for the Ministry to get involved. It had to be even more serious for the secretive Ministry to recruit an outside contractor. 

It was good to spend a few weeks back in my own home region and operate in the vicinity of my homeworld of Eclipticum. My own loyalty is to the Empress - peace be upon her - and to House Kor-Azor, but as a capsuleer and a Ni-Kunni from a wealthy family background I am unofficially exempt from many of the requirements of such fealty; it means I can move more easily between the strata of Amarrian society, and my family's position as owners of the Proxima Direct Spacelines shipping company going back several generations meant we escaped the worst of Aritcio's 'excesses' back in the day. As a capsuleer, today, I enjoy a certain level of respect from the hierarchy that as a Ni-Kunni I might not normally be entitled to. All of this means I can be as observant as I wish, and objective when I wish to be, and can get away with it.

This position, or status, was useful during a series of missions in which I was required to use the Armageddon against my own people. These were rank-and-file Amarrian ship crews that were caught up in something they had no control over: their master's personal treacherous power play and ego trip. 

I was initially based in the Nishah system, but as this thing became bigger than I imagined, I ended up ranging all over Kor-Azor, working-for but never actually meeting face-to-face with the agent Riff Hebian, who worked from his own Armageddon in the Palas system.

While this series of missions developed I spent millions of ISK - millions and millions - on different weapons specifications to try to get the Armageddon to work properly against the traitors and the Sansha infiltrators I kept running into. I tried beam lasers, pulse lasers, torpedoes and cruise missiles, with various armor configurations, eventually settling on a 'Snipergeddon' setup, but not for the reasons you might think. 

While skirmishing with these fleets I was often up against fifteen or twenty ships at a time. The 'Armageddon' took so much punishment from these fleets, such a hammering for hours at a time, and dealt with so much armor ablation and hull damage, that I started to have a problem with members of my contract slavecrew freaking out and committing suicide by airlocking themselves or finding sidearms or knives from somewhere and using them on themselves and each other. Every time I'd dock there would be a report from the slavemasters carrying a double-digit number of 'missing persons'. This and the blood stains and the remains I found in it when I first got the ship made me wonder whether it was cursed, and whether I'd have to get Brother Theodosius Savnar to perform an exorcism on it.

As if that wasn't ridiculous enough, the other thing was going through so much Nanite Repair Paste and breaking-off skirmishes to use a friendly nano-repair tether so frequently, that I started to wonder whether all the constant hull and armor regeneration meant that it was no-longer the same ship that it was when it was built.

So the 'Snipergeddon' strategy was in part to offset all of this by warping into the location of a fleet of variously Sansha, Amarrian heretics, 'Independents' and Mercenaries and immediately Micro Jump Driving over a hundred kilometers away and picking them off slowly, gradually, not letting them get anywhere near me, with cruise missiles. Thousands of missiles. It worked. No crew suicides anymore. No more armor regeneration. But my God it took a lifetime...

But the ship soaked it all up - even while taking down a Sansha Battlestation:

And even while taking down massive comms arrays pointed straight towards the Stain region - the origin of Sansha's Nation:

And then the Snipergeddon even had to get into hacking a station's mainframe with a jury-rigged and hotwired Data Analyzer installation ('Hackergeddon'?), and later getting into extracting an undercover agent from a complex of chapels.

But in contrast, the final face-off in the Choga system with the renegade Terrus Harkan - the renegade at the centre of this affair and the heretic I had helped the agents Riff Hebian and Aralin Jick uncover - was an anticlimax, a formality. The Snipergeddon found purpose and resolve when it was called upon, even against the fleet of Nightmares that Harkan was being protected by. Harkan was a blasphemous heretic and a traitor. Like all those who follow this path he became convinced of his own religious purity and destiny and hubris and had to be purged. I drew little satisfaction from that. But it had to be done.

Purged, along with his unholy, abominable Nightmares with their undead crew, all sent to His judgement.

For God and for Holy Amarr.

I returned to Hebian's Armageddon in Palas after it was over and received the usual thanks and blessings, and I was honoured to be of service. I really was. But we are all ultimately in the service of God. The only reason I had got into this mess was because somebody - Harkan - thought they were an exception. And this will happen again, you can guarantee it. It's why the Ministry of Internal Order exists - to deal with the excesses of human nature.

A contract fulfilled then, and through God's will, a ship that performed its duty when it mattered. The Armageddon may be old and obsolete, but because it doesn't specialise in anything it is extremely versatile, as I proved by using four different weapons systems on it. 

Probably the only reason it survived all this punishment was the amount of modification and improvement that comes with a capsuleer conversion, which leads to the argument again that this is not the same ship it was, not a standard Armageddon.

But the fact remains that it is built like an asteroid and will last forever. Mine will probably outlive the heat death of the universe. 

So when that happens and I am that 'last capsuleer alone with God', it will be in this ship.

[OOC: this was the Amarr Epic Arc. You need +5 with the Ministry of Internal Order to do it and Eve University has an excellent walkthrough of both permutations of the storyline. You may wish to use a T3C for speed and efficiency, or if you want to take your time and look at the scenery then a T1 BS will serve you well, despite the received wisdom on r/eve... ]