New Friends, Old Friends

Well, it has been an interesting few weeks, no doubt about that. New corp, new alliance, new war. God I hate alliance politics.

My crew’s excellent work for our employer in the last bit of hostilities got us an invite to join them. This is a nullsec group with a long and storied history, though recently they haven’t been a major player in the Sovereignty game. Good bunch of blokes, even if I don’t get to see much of them due to timezone issues.

With the influx of fresh blood, it was decided that it was time to move back up to the frontlines and search for the fabled “good fights” that null-dwellers seem to think so highly of. A call came in from one of the many contacts that every corp has in its history. Talks were had and deals were made (of which I was not privy, grunt-fighter that I am now) and word got out that we had found the fights we were looking for. Deployment orders were issued and the logistics teams began their work of moving us into striking position.

As soon as the paperwork was signed we knew something was up. The tone of alliance communications was strained, the friendly banter between pilots almost non-existent. Comms relay passwords were given and changed three times before my gear even saw a carrier. True, we had our fights and lots of them, but daily CTAs on a shaky SRP was starting to drain the less wealthy pilots of the group. When you add everything up, the future is looking pretty grim. Perhaps this move wasn’t such a good idea after all….

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my main FC this week as well. I had met him shortly after graduation and we’ve flown together off and on for years. His enthusiasm for combat was infectious and will be greatly missed. Hopefully he will renew his pilot’s license and take to the stars again someday, but I wish him all the best in whatever he put his energy towards now.

Weeks like this make me miss being an independent contractor, with nothing except the stars and my wallet telling me where to roam. Got a call from one of my old planetside contacts as well, saying that he wants to show me something hot. Whatever it is, I hope customs allows it into orbit…

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Operation Billystick – The Fall of Rome

(*All names have been changed)

Alliances are built on trust. It doesn’t matter how many pilots you bootstrap into your fleet, if those pilots don’t trust that their leaders are doing right by them, then the whole system is effected. It may not grind to a halt at first, but like a handful of sand in a well-oiled machine, it will start a hell of a rattle.
So it was with EN* and ZG*. More and more frequently the ZG pilots were relying on third parties to help defend the space and infrastructure of the constellation instead of calling for action from EN to drive us away. The grunts of EN were more than a little confused at the sudden hostility of their brothers-in-arms, not realizing that the nice, easy fights they had been conducting were simply diversion against the main attacks we were apply to their allies.
On the other face of the coin, ZG was furious at their loose-lipped partners, who kept laughing about how we were “good guys” and “better to talk to” while ZG’s pilots spent most of their time either repping structures or docked up hiding from the cackling jackels of our forces.

Finally, something unexpected upset the applecart and broke up the partnership for good; Sansha. All of a sudden the zombies began pouring into the area, setting up defenses and jamming all cynos. An Incursion had begun, which immediately halted both our advances in the area, and the slow bleed of pilots and corps from our enemies. Both sides retreated to safer space to regroup and restock.

Or so the leaders of ZG had hoped. The mass exodus out of the area in the first few days of the Incursion had exposed something that probably would have been better to hide. Their high security supply route. Our raiders fell upon them like starved wolves dropped into a butcher shop, paying CONCORD their blood money and signing the war declaration with glee. The boys on the frontlines tell me it was a good week.

At the same time, EN had their hands full dealing with the loss of their staging PoS, which was suddenly annihilated by a roaming gang of PoS-bashers, un affiliated to us if that can be believed. Unfortunately for them, the blokes stuck around to finish the job as well. I never could get anyone to admit how much gear was lost, but by reactions, they were hurting badly.
The lack of support from their allies even in high security space was the final straw for ZG. When the dust began to settle and Sansha had gone home, the Germans gave the boot to EN, preferring to fight by themselves than rely on (apparently) useless help.

The writing was on the wall however, and even the Germans began to shed corps due to burnout and frustration. “Fire Brigade” fleets of various German-language groups, once regular occurrences, had slowed to almost non-existance. No one wanted to travel out to help with no prospect of an actual fleet fight, so they didn’t bother, while lone pilots and small groups were getting jumped on a daily basis.
Then, the moment our Dread pilots had been waiting for arrived. A single ZG PoS-tender who, after watching a 25 repcarrier fleet sans support, cyno away after repping the shields to 51% began onlining guns and turning on arrays, and then logged off. No strontium refills. No shield hardeners online.

No more PoS.

After that event, ZG began to fold in upon itself. Trains of Jump Freighters and Carriers headed for greener pastures, leaving our forces basking in the glory and satisfaction of a job well done. The area was ours, and the accomplishment of causing a superior force to pack up and leave was a heady feeling indeed.

Intermission

I’m a drifter by nature, and not just when I am locked in my pod. Every once in a while, I have to unhook and breathe air that isn’t piped to me. Feel gravity from something other than starship acceleration. As a capsuleer, I have the available funds and ability to pilot myself to any countless number of worlds for vacation, and frequently do so.
Where to you might ask? Sunny beaches? No, as a red-haired fellow most star’s rays are too potent for my skin. Shopping centers and luxury hotels? Negative, the flux of the masses and the pretension of the elite make my teeth ache (unless I’m on contract, but business is business).
I prefer to spend my days planetside out in the wilderness, away from the comforts of high-technology. A firearm, a fire-starter and a survival kit are my normal supplies for these adventures. There is something special about that time alone in the wastes of a planet that may or may not have had a settler in the past century. You start to appreciate that no matter how big humankind has gotten, that there are still places untamed and wild.
My most recent adventure took me to a frozen shanty town on the edge of the habitable zone of a world called Matheson, a veritable oasis compared to my usual locales. Whether it was the name of an explorer or a governor, I didn’t bother to ask. The locals were friendly enough, but couldn’t understand why I would choose their ice ball to land on. They never knew I was a capsuleer thanks to the cold-weather gear and I wasn’t going to enlighten them. My money was good though (I had made sure to pick up some local currency when I landed), and the old men at the bar were happy to have a few drinks with an offworlder while they regaled me with the goings-on of a mining town with a scant two hundred souls. Daytime had me trekking through the crevasses and glaciers and when the temperature began its meteoric plunge at dark, I would once again join the old, broken down miners who knew as well as I did that they would die at the controls of their mine equipment.
Those ice fields are the breeding ground for brave souls and poets. No suicide tackler or disco-bomber could be as brave or stand as tall as those men and women, for they only had one life to give for the profit of their corporate masters. And the most amazing part? Most of them felt privileged to live and work those frozen rocks. Not for the meager wages that kept the heat on and the bar open, no, for something more than that. The adventure, the beauty, the solitude, the fellowship; each had their reason, but they all proclaimed it with a distant look and a wistful smile.

Capsuleers don’t think like this anymore. We don’t act like this. It is all profit margins and ISK-per-hour. Rogue starship AI with the minds of accountants or psychopaths….and I’m not sure which is worse. When we gained our immortality, did we lose our soul? Is it worth the loss?

I spent weeks on that rock. I didn’t want to leave the icy vistas of the daylight, or the orange glow of the ceramic heaters at night. But like I said, I am a drifter. Finally the call of the stars came back over me and I began longing to see distant nebulae. I gathered the barflies around me for a holo-shot and quietly packed my things and jumped on the next shuttle to the spaceport.
Before returning to orbit, I purchased the mine and the surrounding town, making sure to include a notice in the local broadcast that included my pilot license photo. Work would still be done, granted, but with shorter hours and better pay. I didn’t care if they mined ore, but I also knew that most of them still would. That’s just the kind of people they were.

I never knew that town’s name. Don’t know if it even had one to be truthful. There was no sign and the locals didn’t mention one. Maybe I’ll ask someone there when I go back again, the next time the madness of space comes over me. Or maybe I won’t. Life is a different pace there, and maybe “town” is all the name it needs.