Tuesday, 28 December 2010

DurrHurrDurr

So I went and interviewed DurrHurrDurr because he's an attention whore.

Normally I don't interview people, because I'm appallingly bad at it. But in this case he contacted me and pretty much interviewed himself. All I had to do was try to keep up. If anyone else wants an interview, just sent me a briefcase full of ISK and I'll see what I can do.

 
DHD > I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SAY THAT I LIKE YOUR BLOG - ALSO ALLCAPS

RA > Ha ha, thanks.

DHD > How are you liking TEST so far broseph?

RA > I seem to remember you masterminded the trolling of OWN a few months back.

DHD > Mhm.

RA > Yeah Test seems a lot more fun and organised than OWN was.

DHD > Oh yeah, OWN was dead weight. The entire thing with OWN actually happened out of boredom. I didn't expect it to take off at all.

RA > I'm still sort of finding my feet in Test, and getting a feel for it

DHD > Ah, that happens. There's a niche for pretty much everyone in TEST.

RA > I don't know much about it really, other than it's connection to Dreddit. TEST sort of popped up on the radar one day from nowhere, and seemed to have a enthusiasm for pulling stunts.

DHD > I can give you a bit of history if you'd like. I joined Dreddit on its second day.

RA > Yeah it's interesting to know how things snowball. TEST seems to be riding a wave right now and going from strength to strength, especially if Fountain works out.

DHD > Well, Dreddit is made up of the readership of reddit.com which is a news aggregator. Back in February someone named Fletcher Hammond made a post on the gaming subreddit about starting up an EVE Online corporation for Reddit. He made it and got about 600 members on the first day. By the second day we had 800 members.

RA > Sweet Jesus! CCP must love you.

DHD > We set up a base of operations in placid and learned how to play by fighting numerous war-decs. We had massive fleets of 50-60 frigates, all Tech1 fitted to fight 2-3 battleships. We got a lot of kills and started expanding a bit into the nearby low/nullsec, mainly Syndicate. Where we got hot dropped and had a Titan cynoed onto a mining fleet by Goons, who then saw us undock in 50-60 Rifters and try to fight their caps. They thought it was hilarious so they blued us.

RA > Ha ha.

DHD > We started doing some ops with them, living closely with them in Syndicate after they lost Cloud Ring, and when TCF invited them up to live in their space, they insisted we come along. So we did, and we got our first taste of player-owned null-sec and sov warfare. When Goons made a deployment a month or so later down to Curse, we went with them. As soon as our corporation was old enough, we became the executors of TEST. If I remember correctly, ARSED and OMFG were our first members. We did a lot of dick-waving in Curse, pushed in the renters there with the goons until they collapsed, and then came back to Deklein. When TCF said they were folding and giving it to goons, they gave us a chunk of Deklein (including Defi4nt's space) for being awesome as hell. We did our first solo deployment down to Curse, which went well. We made a few friends and stuff. However, Fountain is going better than expected so we had to cut it short and come back.

RA > Fair enough. That's pretty good going for a bunch of guys in Rifters. Most new corps get swallowed by High-Sec war-decs and ground down by mercenary corps.

DHD > Mhm, I think we survived because of a give no fucks mentality we've developed. We like PVP, dying, and generally being dicks. And putting our dicks in places.

RA > Admirable pursuits!

DHD > Yeah, it's a fun time. We have a Retarded Shenanigans division, which I run. We reimbursed every cruiser hull and below during Hulkageddon with it.

RA > Oh yeah the next one is up soon.

DHD > Mhm. I don't know if we'll be covering hulls this time though. I'd like to, but donations have fallen off a bit.

RA > Are you afraid at all that TEST might get bogged down in 'serious business' with sov holding and grinding through Fountain?

DHD > Not really. We have an active and involved community. Last time I ran a suicide roam I had 40 or so people show up with minimal advertising 5 minutes before it started. We ended up dying without any kills, and everyone still thought it was fun as hell

RA > Fair enough.

DHD > So we went through a wormhole and dropped a TCU in Esoteria a few hours later. And then our entire fleet died engaging a bunch of carriers on a station. We're pretty unique in that we really strongly encourage community participation. There are usually over 100 people logged into our teamspeak at any given time.

RA > I'll have to try to join up for some of those fleets. There's something very liberating about diving into to a fight with no thought of survival.

DHD > They're pretty fun. They're pretty much called 'DHD is the FC'.

RA > FC'ing is fairly uncommon trade in EVE. How did you get into that?

DHD > I did it back when we were brand new. I'm by no means a good FC. In fact, I'm not that good at all. But no one really gives a shit in TEST unless it's an important op. Home defense is often run by new or inexperienced FCs.

RA > The freedom to fail is important I guess. I think a lot of people myself included are put off the idea of FC'ing by the responsibility of getting everyone blown up.

DHD > Yeah, when your job is to get kills and die it's not so bad.

RA > Well you'll have to excuse my pitiful interview skills but I can't think of anything else to ask.

DHD > Ha ha, that's all right.

RA > I'll head off for now, and grab a coffee.

DHD > Take it easy man.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Test Journalist Please Ignore


So I went and joined TEST.

I had been contacted by a former member from my very first corp, The Wolves of Fenrir, who invited me to join Metanoia.

“Come to Deklien,” he said, “All the Guristas you can eat, and free jump bridges! You can fly a Maelstrom right?”

Turned out, a whole pack of former wolves had already signed up to the TEST wagon. No point resisting the tide I thought, Fate clearly had plans of her own for me. Besides I had gotten into a rut again, and had been searching around for a new direction to take.

Security seemed tighter than my previous alliance. OWN Alliance had accepted my application within all of 5 minutes. The TEST HR department took 3 days. Were they suspicious? I'm a pretty shady character I guess, with links to anarchist free-space captains, free-booting pirates and lowest of the low, internet spaceship journalists.

Well I must have checked out, because God help them they accepted me. I could almost smell those fat juicy Gurista sanctums, but first the rat bastards made me register at multiple authorisation sites. I swear if I have to submit passwords, emails and APIs to just one more time I going to fake a psychotic episode and start shooting blues.

Finally the torture came to an end, and they let me on comms, a two edged sword at best. I'm one of those odd people who can either think or talk, but not both. So every time someone asked me how I was doing, I'd lose it completely and fly smack into a moon. I decided the best course of action would be to adopt an inaudible mutter and respond in non-sequiturs. In a happy coincidence this is my normal speech pattern anyway. It seemed to work. After a while people stopped asking me who the hell I was, and my piloting skills improved dramatically.

So I spent an industrious first day liquidising various assets, and setting up shop in Deklien just in time to receive an alliance mail instructing everyone to move to Cloud Ring instead. Apparently the recent incursions by Goonswarm Federation and company into Fountain had proved so successful, that a full blown invasion was now planned. TEST would therefore be pulling out of it's Curse campaign and joining forces with everyone else to give IT Alliance a damn good thrashing.

This would prove to be some what of a logistical nightmare, since hundreds of pilots in TEST now needed to move their warships all the way to the new base of operations in Cloud Ring. Multiple convoys ran the gauntlet daily, and special thanks goes to Cmdr GAT who organised a lot of them, and helped me extract a Maelstrom from a war-target infested Rens.

Still it wasn't enough, and more drastic action was deemed necessary. The call went out to join a suicide fleet in Sendaya. Full reimbursement would be granted to pilots who signed up. The plan would be to go look for trouble and die in a blaze of glory. This sounded like too much fun to pass up, so I immediately clone jumped to Rens and joined them in a cheap Rifter.

It proved to be a popular event, with over 80 of us forming up in Sendaya. We headed into Curse and surprised the hell out of a couple of small roaming gangs, but our search for a 'good fight' would be denied. Scouts reported a large NCDOT fleet headed our way with triage carrier support. No point fighting those lame bastards our FC decided, and took us back into empire space to suicide gank a jump-freighter for giggles. A suitable target was spotted and the ambush laid.

Being fiendishly clever, I had set up my overview to ignore fleet members and only display potential hostiles. Therefore the fact that I had inadvertently ended up on the wrong side of the gate, and was enthusiastically bumping the wrong freighter entirely eluded me. My erratic behaviour confused two additional fleet members who joined me moments later in opening fire on said freighter and dying in a futile gesture to the Concord SWAT response - good job Aventine!

Mission accomplished, I took the pod express to Cloud Ring, and started fitting the Maelstrom previously rescued from Rens. PNQY-Y was coming out of final reinforcement later that day and it was rumoured that IT Alliance was pulling back out of Catch to defend it. This would be the pivotal battle for Fountain, and Deklein Coalition was deploying a full Call-To-Arms.


In the end it would be a battle that for the most part, I would be absent from - prior real life social engagement and all that. You can read what happened elsewhere. Fiddler's Edge probably has the most coherent account, though there is a particularly entertaining battle report posted on Kugutsumen. Suffice to say IT got stomped.

For me the most out standing aspect of the battle, was the fact that it happened at all. This time last year, 1600 pilots in system would have either resulted in the black screen of death or the server node crashing. Congratulations to CCP then, for making real progress in fighting the lag monster.

In the meantime, this is Rebecca Aventine somewhere in TEST, signing off.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Suddenly Ninjas!


So I went and bought a Noctis.

It only seemed appropriate after covering the great blueprint race in Outer Ring to get my paws on one of these babies and take it for a spin. So I knocked out a few level fours in Dodixie and took it out to hoover up all the loot.

Back when I was much younger capsuleer desperately saving up for my first battlecruiser I did a lot of salvaging, so much so, that I eventually came to loathe the tedious clean up operation that followed a successful combat mission. My salvage Catalyst would run out of cap or cargo space and it always seemed to take forever.

The Noctis on the other hand is an absolute joy to fly.

Anyway I got so carried away with scooping loot, that I completely ignored the anonymous tip off I received in my mail to go cover a war in Fountain. Apparently some obscure little alliance called Goonswarm Federation was invading the space of a bunch of nobodies called IT Alliance. Ridiculous notion, when I've got important wrecks to salvage and missions to run. What were they thinking?

So I warped off in my Dominix eager to break a Serpentis Assault, jumped through the first acceleration gate and got mission hijacked. Normally when a ninja frigate turns up in your mission it's just one of those occupational hazards that a serial mission runner becomes accustomed to. However, I was about halfway through the first room when a Maelstrom, Kronos and Machariel gate crashed me...


Channel Name: Hulk Chat
---------------------------------------------------------------
Channel MOTD: Welcome, counselling is on the house.

P.S. If we melted your Hulk, it only cost us 5 million.

Ivan Sable > Targetted?
Ashley Sky > Welcome to the party line. Yup, those silly NPCs.
Rebecca Aventine > Hello!
Ashley Sky > I'm coming back to take your mission.
Ivan Sable > Can I come? I'm not wearing any pants.
Rebecca Aventine > Go for it.
Ashley Sky > We will join you momentarily.
Ivan Sable > So you're an investigator?
Ashley Sky > Ok ready Ivan?
Ivan Sable > Yeah. What can you tell me by a quick glance at Ashley and I?
Ashley Sky > Ok I warped to the gate again. I'm seriously retarded, my brain doesn't work. It's because I have a destination set and I see yellow.
Ivan Sable > Shhh, you're giving our investigator clues.
Ashley Sky > Ok warp to me now, Becky needs our help.
Rebecca Aventine > Anything at 55km is not aggroed.
Ashley Sky > Roger that, it is now.
Ivan Sable > I'm velcroed to the acceleration gate.
Rebecca Aventine > You're not related to the infamous Ashley clones by any chance?
Ashley Sky > No I'm related to Mary Kate.
Rebecca Aventine > I don't think I've ever been ninjaed this overwhelmingly before.
Ashley Sky > Welcome to the mission, Ivan with the ultimate alpha strike. Call in drones.
Terrus Valkin > SEND IN THE DRONES!
Rebecca Aventine > Fly my pretties!
Terrus Valkin > I'd fly with you Ashley, but my ships are too expensive to risk to your back-stabby personality.
Ashley Sky > So are mine but that doesn't stop me. That thing is running away from us!
Terrus Valkin > After him!
Rebecca Aventine > Last one to the gate buys the drinks.
Ashley Sky > In my hurp-derp I flew 50km away from it. I just got a 7 million bounty ding though, how about you Ivan?
Terrus Valkin > I broke my record the other day, 13 million.
Ivan Sable > Yeah, me too.
Ashley Sky > Welcome to the mission.
HomSupLo > Thank you, thank you.
Ashley Sky > It's already in progress. Press one to join conference.
Terrus Valkin > Have you ever had a friend that always wants to talk to you but constantly keeps coming back to their stereotypically fucked up family life?
Ashley Sky > Ding!
Terrus Valkin > So you're like, "Ugh, I don't want to talk to this person," and they're like, "Hi! I was hoping you'd get on!" And then you're like SUICIDE.
Ashley Sky > Is it a girl?
Terrus Valkin > Yes.
Ashley Sky > Delete your Facebook.
Rebecca Aventine > A Machariel! You're just showing off now.
Ashley Sky > Is that Mach' fast enough to reach those stupid ships out there?
Terrus Valkin > If a guy tries to hit on another guy, does the term 'getting into their panties' still apply?
HomSupLo > Shit, why do I have Gardes?
Ashley Sky > My ship seems to want to fly in the wrong direction.
Rebecca Aventine > Does he wear panties?
Terrus Valkin > No.
HomSupLo > Bad drones!
Terrus Valkin > Would it be politically correct to say 'get into his boxer-briefs'? Because then it would sound like you're wondering what kind of underwear he wears, and that's gay.
Ashley Sky > Hey Ivan, can you fleet HomSupLo and give me fleet command?
Ivan Sable > I have drones in my pants.
Ashley Sky > I'll find us another victim.
HomSupLo > Faction drones called crabs?
Terrus Valkin > My nanobots carry genetic material.
Rebecca Aventine > Well thanks for the assist! I could have been in real trouble there.
Terrus Valkin > I often dole out 'nanite repair paste' to women in need.



I took that as a sign from the Internet gods to go investigate Fountain.

I'd like to say I painstakingly plotted a devious route that would allow me to surreptitiously enter that distant region undetected and avoid any nasty hotspots. The truth is that after a few minutes of starring in bewilderment at the maps, I just hit the autopilot and hoped for the best. It's not a method I'd like to recommend to anyone, but what the hell, it's never failed me.

The route itself was about thirty jumps, twenty through null-sec, through various regions and multiple sovereignties. On paper it looked like a complete nightmare, a one way ticket to planet gate-camp. In the end however, it turned out to be a walk in the park. The back door to Cloud Ring was wide open, one empty system after another, no road blocks, no pursuers, just the occasional cloaked scout or two. And in the very first Fountain system, I stumbled straight into a Deklein Coalition fleet reinforcing an IT Infrastructure Hub in J5A-IX.

Some days even if it was raining interdiction spheres I wouldn't get wet.

Sadly, I had arrived late to the party. Luckily, a member of Wildly Inappropriate directed me to their kill-board, where I was able to peruse the details of the battle I had just missed. It looked pretty one sided. GSF, WI, TEST and TNT had utilised massed Drakes and Stealth Bombers supported by Scimitars to devastating effect against an out numbered opponent. The IT aligned defenders comprised of Blade, Black Star Alliance and Talos Coalition. They had deployed a rather unorthodox response fleet of both shield and armour buffered vessels, but I guess in an emergency you bring what you can.

So moving swiftly on, before the Goon's victory spam made my eyes bleed, I made my way to the core of Fountain and the cluster of systems owned by the Serpentis pirate organisation. Hopefully it will be a good place to base out from, and report on further developments.

In the meantime this is Rebecca Aventine, somewhere in Fountain, signing off.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Night of the Noctis

So I was exploring Syndicate.

It's not the first time I've been in Syndicate. About a year ago I acquired my first jump clone and ventured out in a disposable Tristan on a journey of discovery. Every Stargate was a leap into the unknown. It felt exciting and dangerous, and I practically wet myself every time I saw another ship on the overview. Inevitably I met my end at the first gate-camp I jumped into, but it was an exhilarating introduction to the wild frontier.

15 million skill points later, it doesn't feel so dangerous any more. In fact, at times it's even felt a little dull. Which is why, when I heard of something happening in nearby Outer Ring I jumped at the opportunity to go investigate.

A fellow member of The Scope, had made his way to one of the ORE stations in 4C-B7X in anticipation of the release of the blueprint for the new Noctis class salvage vessel. Apparently the system was filling up with potential customers and already pirates were circling the station, no doubt drooling at the thought of looting said blueprints - valued at a cool 400 million ISK.

There was a couple of hours until downtime, so I plotted a route and set off. Along the way I passed multiple covert-op vessels and T3 cruisers all making the same journey. There wasn't a gate-camp in sight. Getting to Outer Ring felt all too easy, and I suspected the trip back out after downtime would be fraught and tense.

I quickly arrived in 4C-B7X, set up my bookmarks and scouted out the 6-1 station. A few members of Privateers Of Virtue had set up a warp distribution sphere outside the undock point, but were not hindering new arrivals. Meanwhile there was over 80 pilots in local, and more arriving all the time, even as pilots who had already docked logged off. They had come from every corner of the New Eden star cluster, and they all wanted a piece of the Noctis.

The place had a party atmosphere. A few pilots indulged in filling POV's kill-board with rookie ship kill-mails, while others chatted in a jovial manner. In a few hours it would be a different story, but for now there was laughter rather than slaughter.

Returning after downtime I discovered over 200 pilots in local, and the 6-1 station besieged by multiple warp bubbles and pilots from Wildly Inappropriate. However I wasn't the only cloaked observer outside the station. The CEO of Mechanical Eagles, one Tork Norand gave continuous updates of the situation outside the station for those trapped inside.

As I watched, other alliances came to fight for position on the station, including Blade and Hun Reloaded, and in the intervening moments when the station was clear, pilots undocked and made desperate escapes. A few were caught immediately, others almost reached high-sec before hitting a gate-camp. Fortunes were lost and made as the blueprints changed hands.

Enough managed to get out and seed the markets of New Eden however, as after clone jumping to Dodixie I witnessed the new ships already undocking from the Federal Navy station.

Noctis Blockade Runners, I salute you.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tipping Point

So I was wondering who the hell NCDOT are.

A member of Goonswarm once joked that if their opponents ever made a corp named 'The NC' they would obliterate any Goon fleet without resistance. About a month later, former elements of Triumvirate went ahead and created a whole alliance called 'Northern Coalition.' and proceeded to cause all kinds of mayhem in Fountain and Outer Ring.

A few days go NCDOT turned up on the border of Providence, basing out of the system of Yong. As suspected by many, it soon became apparent that they were working with Evoke. Since NCDOT is mostly a US time zone operator, any advantage that New Providence previously had in that slot promptly vanished.

Word on the street is that Sodalitas, Daisho Syndicate and Agony are already making their evacuation plans, and will be exiting Providence soon. The remaining members of New Providence simply don't have the numbers to mount any meaningful resistance. At this point it's all over apart from the sovereignty grind.

This is going to be a very decisive time for CVA. Potentially they could make make huge gains, though I suspect their cultural identity will not allow them to negotiate any deal with a NBSI entity.

Time will tell, but today markes the end of another era for the region.

So I'll be leaving Providence for now. I've got itchy feet again and there are still whole regions of the EVE universe I've never visited, frontiers I've never seen. I'll probably hang out in high-sec for a while and make my plans. If I stumble across anything interesting, hell I might even write about it.

In the meantime, this is Rebecca Aventine signing off.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

A Week in Providence

So I was scouting around Providence in a Taranis, when I stumbled across a confrontation between CVA and Evoke.

I had noticed earlier that day that Imperial Order system 18-GZM had fallen to CVA and had headed into the south-western side of Providence to see if I could get a look. However after bursting through a gate camp in a neighbouring system I found myself cornered with hostiles eyes watching each exit. Deciding that discretion would be the better part of valour I pulled a 'logoffski' and left it for a while.

Upon returning I spotted that another system X6AB-Y had dropped sovereignty.

Since I had probably missed whatever action had taken place in 18-GZM I changed course and made my way to X6AB-Y. Interestingly enough I found Territorial Claim Units deployed in this former Ushra'Khan system by both CVA and Evoke.

I have to confess I had mixed feelings about this. Partly because I had previously been using this quiet backwater system to do some ratting in. The former owners having left the station 'Slavers Bane' open to neutrals such as me. But mostly because the countdown on the TCUs indicated that I would be tucked up in bed and snoring happily by the time they came online.

Subsequently I completely missed the massive three way fight that took place, and EVE News 24 had pretty much scooped me on the whole story by the time I woke up to read it. But hey, that's just how it rolls in the cut-throat business of internet spaceship journalism.

You can read the whole story elsewhere, but in summary, CVA eventually won the system in spite of losing an Avatar Class Titan. By all accounts New Providence did pretty well that night, cleaning up a lot of Evoke SBUs, reinforcing New Berlin and rounding the evening off by killing CVA's super-capital.

So having lost in their bid to take X6AB-Y, Evoke consoled themselves by reinforcing a bunch of stations in the Daisho Syndicate and Sodalitas constellations, and blockading various systems there. I scouted this out, and worked out the various timers would imply another major weekend fleet engagement by Evoke into their enemies time-zone.

A few days later I turned up in JEIV-E to witness New Berlin come out of reinforcement. Unfortunately it was too early in the day for New Providence to come out and play. However Evoke and Ewoks turned up in over thirty carriers and made quick work of repairing their station. Perhaps I would have better luck with the next timer, but that wasn't for a few more hours.

So with time to kill I decided to go to Rens and trade in my Claw interceptor for a Stiletto. I could go into the various rationales behind this decision, but to be honest it was pure whim.

It proved my random impulses were onto something however, because halfway through Derelik in the system of Tanoo I stumbled across a dreaded Sansha Incursion.

As is often the case, I was late to the party. But I managed to fleet up with the hundred or so pilots already in system and help drive off the Sansha Nation in a fight that concluded with the destruction of Slave 32152's carrier.

Thankfully Slave 32152 had omitted to fit any smart bombs, otherwise my journey could have ended rather abruptly.

Somewhat later I fitted out a brand new Stiletto in Rens and dove back into Providence. First stop was Y9-MDG, and this time I was not to be disappointed. With around four hundred pilots and a Cynosural Field in system it looked like I had hit the jackpot. I sneaked into a close reconnaissance position off station and got my camera drones ready.

I wouldn't have to wait long. Evoke warped in with an almost identical set-up to their previous attack on JEIV-E, comprising of short range battleships supported by logistic cruisers and a squadron of interceptors and heavy interdictors.

But where was New Providence? After scouting the gates I located them attacking an SBU, and like Evoke they had decided to reuse their previous respective set-up of massed Drakes.

I got back on station in time to witness Agony making an almost perfect attack run on the Evoke Fleet. Stealth Bombers popped up and unleashed a volley of bombs right into the massed battleships doing what I can only assume was serious damage.

The Evoke battleships had been pre-aligned and promptly warped out, however the logistic cruisers were caught off guard. As interdiction spheres blossomed around them, the New Providence Drake Army warped in and set about reducing their numbers.

The Drakes held position for a while finishing off the stragglers, before warping out again. With the station vicinity now cleared of any threat, I followed in hot pursuit and tracked them down to another SBU.

At this point I got over confident. Attempting to get in closer for a better shot, I caught the attention of a New Providence Dramiel pilot who quickly out-paced my interceptor and scrambled my warp drive. Unable to escape, I switched from MWD to Afterburner and pointed him back, but the Stiletto was no match for that deadly Angel Cartel faction frigate, and after a brief tangle I found myself in an escape capsule.

I subsequently managed to escape, but what to do now? It was a long way to Rens to get a new ship. I decided there only one thing for it. This was it, pure gonzo journalism, I was going to cover the remainder of the battle in my pod.

I warped back to the station and tried to look casual. With any luck no one would think a small green metallic egg worth shooting at. It seemed the Evoke battleships were back and busy hammering on the station's defences. Strangely there was no sign of their super-carriers which I had been expecting to see by now. What was their game plan? As I sat pondering this question, an Evoke pilot crept up on me and gave me a surprise express ride to Rens.

I awoke feeling refreshed in a new clone, just in time to receive a communications from said Evoke Pilot. He spoke of the beauty of the frozen corpse now residing in his ships cargo hold, and I felt my heart flutter. Immediately, I pumped him for information. Sadly I was unable to trade his misplaced romantic interest for insider knowledge, so I made my excuses and hung up.

Well I wasn't going to let a small thing like death stop me. So after spending far too long messing around with various ships and fittings, I disembarked and headed into Providence once more. However by the time I got back to Y9-MDG it was all over. The 'Print Prostitution' Station was into it's second reinforcement and the system was practically empty.

Still there was one more timer left to investigate in the Sodalitas system of IWZ3-C, and I was pleased to discover the Evoke fleet attacking the 'Baby Seal Storage' station when I got there. Curiously there were only around 250 pilots in local. Had New Providence taken a beating and been forced to retreat? I had no way of really knowing, but as I watched Evoke deploy their super-carriers to pound the station into a second reinforcement there was no visible counter attack from New Providence.

Mission accomplished, Evoke packed up their fleet and exited. Local dropped off to about fifty, but then began to slowly rise again with New Providence pilots. Something was going on and I was determined to find out what.

Anyway there must have been some mental dysfunction in the new clone I was inhabiting, or at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Because for reasons I cannot fathom I decided it would be a great idea to warp to zero on a gate with a hundred hostiles in local, with predictable results.

I awoke in Rens for the second time that night, much to the bemusement of the medical staff who recommend I lay off the boosters for a while. I took their advise and retired to the station bar to drown my sorrows.

So in the final analysis, while there appears to be no accord between Evoke and CVA, it seems that Evoke and Ewoks will slowly but steadily gain more systems at this rate. New Providence will no doubt make Evoke fight for every inch however, and certainly no one can accuse them of being mere squatters any more.

For there own part CVA have done very well this week gaining two more systems. Especially so, if the rumours I've heard are true. Allegedly X6AB-Y was CVA's capital shipyard prior to being conquered by Ushra'Khan and the value of assets recovered from the liberated 'Aurarius Capitalis' station is worth losing a Titan over.

In the meantime this is Rebecca Aventine, somewhere in Rens, getting drunk.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

New Berlin

So I was ninja-ratting out in Catch.

I'd found a nice little empty system belonging to The Initiative and was happily blasting Sansha battleships in a Hurricane when a source, who wishes to remain anonymous, asked me what the hell I was doing out in the middle of nowhere.

Turns out I was missing all the action in the Sodalitas Constellation of P6N8-J. I'd seen a few reports of Evoke operations there in the previous days, but I had sort gotten into a rut collecting Sansha bounties and the odd bit of True Sansha loot. Anyway, I figured if even random passers-by were telling me to go cover the action, then I probably should get off my ass and check it out.

After piloting the relativity ponderous battlecruiser back to Unity Station, I undocked in a swift and agile Claw interceptor and proceeded to N-RMSH. Local traffic was light and there were no significant gate camps to bar my way. Unfortunately I didn't have any bookmarks for the Sodalitas pocket of systems, so I'd have to reconnoitre on the fly.

I soon discovered it wasn't just N-RMSH that was under siege. There are six systems in P6N8-J, each with a station. Every one of them was reinforced with timers counting down, and with Sovereignty Blockade Units deployed at every Stargate, every system was vulnerable. Oddly enough, not every SBU belonged to Evoke. A few of them appeared to be owned by Sodalitas, and I can only assume they had taken a page out of The Star Fraction's book, and hijacked these SBUs in an attempt to derail the blockade.

I should go into the background of Sodalitas for a moment. They're one of the lynch pins in the New Providence coalition. They've been around since the campaign that swept CVA out into Domain, and were later instrumental in evicting the former Ursha'Khan. In short, they're a major player. So if Evoke breaks Sodalitas then that's pivotal to the future of the whole region.

Anyway with six separate stations all reinforced, I was pretty sure something would happen that night. It looked like the JEIV-E station, curiously known as 'Turkey Shack', would be the first to come out of reinforcement mode. That would still be way past midnight for the German Evoke pilots, but it being the weekend perhaps they would still come out to play.

Either way, I had a few hours to kill, so I decided to head out and sell off my True Sansha loot. It was then that I stumbled across another news worthy item in the border system of G-5EN2.

A squadron of stealth bombers including pilots from The Star Fraction and Mortal Destruction appeared to be attacking Teutonic Guard's station. Now while the station itself was invulnerable, it's services were not, and the bombers were busy wrecking it's Repair Bay. Multiple warp disruption spheres hung in space outside the station effectively trapping a single TG Zealot pilot inside it.

Mortal Destruction used to hang out in G-5EN2 with it's former owners Final Stand. So it appears Star Fraction has been reaching out to those with a grudge against Teutonic Guard, to heighten it's guerilla campaign here.

Moving on, I finally made it to Rens, contracted my faction loot for auction and nodded off watching a holoreel. It felt like it had been a long day.

Little did I know, it was just getting started.

I awoke with a start, and checked the time. I had ten minutes to get back to Providence. Reaching for the Quafe Extreme I set course for JEIV-E and undocked. I raced through systems in a blur and took the Dital entrance to Providence. Thankfully there were no gate camps waiting for me and I made it to the target system just in time.

Local comms displayed over 380 pilots in system. This was it.

Thirty or forty wrecks tumbled in space just beyond the Stargate. A few interceptors wove back and forth through the debris near the SBU deployed there. But they were too far away to stop me as I engaged warp and jumped to my reconnaissance position just off the station. Cloaking up I scanned the vicinity.

There were definitely a lot of sub-capitals out there, but nothing much in visual range. A few escape pods warped in to dock at the station and reship, so there was definitely fighting going on somewhere.

It was then I spotted a ship I had never seen before in my travels. A Polaris Inspector Frigate floated perhaps a hundred clicks off station. It was registered as being owned by ISD Celestin Delune so presumably I wasn't the only reporter to have taken an interest. I soon noticed that the Polaris was warping back and forth to the station, and realised it's pilot must know something I didn't. I waited for it's next departure, dropped my cloak and warped after it in hot pursuit.

I was rewarded with my first visual sighting of the Evoke fleet. Consisting of Armageddon, Megathron and Tempest battleships, supported by Guardian logistic cruisers, the fleet held position below a ringed gas giant.

Interceptors and heavy interdictors further supplemented it's forces, and quickly came into play as the New Providence defence force arrived on the field.

The New Providence fleet appeared to be almost entirely composed of that recent favourite of null-sec warfare, the Caldari Drake battlecruiser. Cheap and effective, a critical mass of shield buffer Drakes can missile volley more expensive vessels before logistic pilots are able to react and repair the damage.

However the New Providence pilots were not going to escape this particular clash unscathed. The Evoke interceptors closed the distance to the Drakes in seconds, allowing the heavy interdictors to warp to them and deploy their warp distribution fields. As the Drakes aligned out, the Evoke battleships began to arrive, and though most of the defence force managed to get away a few remained trapped and were quickly destroyed.

Regardless of these losses the New Providence forces were on their home turf, and could quickly reship in another cheap battlecruiser and rejoin the fight. Evoke pilots on the other hand would have to run the gauntlet from Assah if they lost a ship and tried to get back.

Or would they? At that moment my on-board scanner picked up the signature of a Cynosural Field. I aligned to it's source and jumped. Half way there I suddenly realised that the field would probably have been deployed inside the shields of an Evoke staging POS, and that I would likely come out of warp right into the sights of massed artillery...

My fears were realised, as I dropped out of warp. There indeed was a fully armed and operational POS, inside which there just happened to be a fully armed and operational Erebus Class TITAN.

Frantically mashing the cloak button, Fortune smiled on me. The warp had been long enough that the 30 second cool-down of my cloaking device had already expired and I vanished into the starry night before any hostile weapon systems locked onto me. Presumably with a Titan deployed, Evoke could bridge in any reinforcements they needed. At that moment jump signatures appeared around the Cynosural Field. Something was coming through.

These were no mere battleship reinforcements. Evoke was escalating the conflict and bringing it's super-capitals into play. Six Nyx and two Aeon Class super-carriers had arrived, and were aligning towards the Sodalitas station.

I followed as they warped off, but I had misjudged their destination. The space around the station was empty when I arrived. Where had they gone? It was a question I wouldn't have time to ponder, as the Evoke sub-capital fleet presently warped into view.

It didn't hang around for long though. New Providence had another trick up their sleeve. Appearing as if from nowhere, a squadron of Stealth Bombers launched a salvo of bombs towards the Evoke battleships which immediately warped off again. Both sides appeared to be engaged in rapid hit and run skirmishes.

Warping in directly below me, the super-carriers arrived and unleashed their fighter bombers. Somewhat unnervingly, as they swarmed towards the station, they passed within 10km of my fragile ship, almost de-cloaking me and revealing my position.

New Providence countered this by warping their Drake fleet into range of the super-carriers and focused their fire onto a single Aeon.

Evoke responded by warping in their support fleet, just as the Drakes pulled out, and suffered another attack from the defenders' stealth bombers. The back and forth attacks continued ,while Evoke redeployed their super-capitals high above the station and unleashed their fighters again.

Once again the defence force ambushed the super-carriers with focused missile fire, but were forced once more to retreat by the return of the Evoke battleships.

In the end, the courageous defence fought by New Providence's coalition of pilots was to no avail. Battered and pounded, the station personnel signalled their surrender to Evoke, and formally handed the station into their possession.

Further skirmishes continued, but I had already seen enough and retired from the field. It was an extraordinary battle to follow, fought by highly skilled pilots and fleet commanders, unmarred by the lag previously associated with these fleet engagements, and an example of what EVE can be at it's best.

In the meantime I present to you Evoke's first station in Providence, New Berlin.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Spies Like Us

So I went and lost the Vagabond, at a random gate camp appropriately enough. What threw me though, was that I lost it to CVA in a bizarre turn of events.

I think I know how Pandemic Legion must feel.

Outraged by this non NRDS behaviour I sent a formal enquiry to their chief diplomat. I was hoping for either some form of reimbursement or a reply so arrogant that it would make for great copy and a tabloid headline.

Unfortunately, what I got back was a calm and considered explanation, pointing out that since my previous corp was an entity considered red by CVA, I would still be considered red while residing in a NPC corp such as The Scope.

Frankly it's this sort of thing that gives fanatical imperialists a bad name. How dare they spite my agenda by being polite and rational!

Anyway, turned out I could reset my status to CVA by creating my own private corp, which I promptly did. You are now looking at the CEO of Aventine Investigations, a gonzo tax haven operating out of a cardboard box in Dodixie. I probably drop out back into The Scope in a couple of days. I think I miss the random banter and general bat-shit insanity, and of course the occasional lead.

So I was indulging in a bit of high-sec mission running to replenish my funds (don't look at me like that, I know you've all done it) when things took a turn for the weird...

Kuzya Morozov > My corporation has paid delicate attention to your news organization. And is prepared to supply you with two personal assistants for your taking.

Rebecca Aventine > This sounds intriguing.

Kuzya Morozov > These assistants are yours for your use. Any lose of equipment or ships will be replaced by my corp. You are not limited to any assignments for them. That being, mining, missioning. recon. Etc. You will find them lacking in PVP abilities so that may and well be not recommended. We have read your many contributions of information. And find them vital to our own needs. However if you choose to accept them. We would like to remain anonymous.

Rebecca Aventine > Well I guess I could use help around the office.

Kuzya Morozov > Excellent. I will inform my superiors...

Kuzya Morozov > My superiors have agreed and all is in order. How shall I proceed?

Rebecca Aventine > If you could give their names, and let me run a background check.

Kuzya Morozov > The assistants in question are myself and BoSZoneOni

Rebecca Aventine > Ah, thank you. And are the two of you willing to fly around null-sec?

Kuzya Morozov > I have no problems flying null-sec. However I am ill experienced in that department. It's been quite a few years for me. Been around high too long. Any political balances that may exist I am unaware of them. Or necessary tactics about flying safely in null-sec. My partner is even more naive.

Rebecca Aventine > Well I work in Providence a great deal. If you're not prepared to dodge bullets for a good story it might be best to walk away. Though I am flattered by your offer.

Kuzya Morozov > We are prepared, just not knowledgeable of the ways in which to be best prepared.

Rebecca Aventine > Ok, well I have to dash off for a while. I'll make a note of your names and get back to you. Thank you for your interest in my work.



While I suspect this is an elaborate short-con to blow up my battleship when I undock, I wouldn't object to having a couple of spies around hypothetically. Essentially that's all a journalist is, only instead of reporting to someone like The Mittani I just spill the beans to all and sundry for free. If I wasn't planning to fold the corp in a few days I'd probably hire them just for the hell of it. If nothing else they'd be great cannon fodder.

So getting back to Providence, the current situation there appears to be a time-zone stalemate.

Evoke and CVA respectively out number their opponents during EU prime time, while New Providence dominates the US slot. The up-shot of this is that no one can deploy the numbers required to take sovereignty in their opponents time zone. Which isn't to say there aren't battles going on, but unless someone on the defensive screws up really badly, it's deadlocked.

For their own part, Evoke seems well established in Assah, and are happily hot-dropping super-capitals, sort of taking over from Pandemic Legion who exited stage right to Venal. An alliance with the amusing name of 'Not Found' deployed some SBUs in Hyena's border system Y-MPWL, but I haven't seen any further action there just yet. And finally, Dara Cothrom handed over a system to Flying Dangerous, giving FIGL complete control over the ZQ2-CF constellation.

In the meantime, this is Rebecca Aventine somewhere in Sinq Laison, signing off.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Teutonic Tengu Trade

So I was heading to Assah to check on the Evoke build up, when I discovered a few Star Fraction pilots lurking in G-5EN2. The ever helpful SF pilot Claire XXX was on the scene and explained that they had been busy attacking Teutonic Guard (aka TG) in retribution for their part in the assault on YW-S0Z.

Formerly held by The Final Stand, the important border system of G-5EN2 was taken over by TG quite recently, no doubt as part of the same campaign that attempted to replace Star Fraction with On The Rocks.

For their own part, TG seem a friendly enough bunch (when they're not chasing away overtly curious journalists from loitering outside their station) and seem willing leave this particular entrance to Providence open to visitors. However this particular day the visitors would include a covert squadron from Evoke in addition to the SF guerilla fighters.

Sensing a battle in the offing, I warped to the station and cloaked up at a discrete distance to observe the action. A warp distribution sphere hung 100km off the station which TG appeared to dislike, as they presently undocked in two battlecruisers and a Tengu in order to remove the intrusive bubble.

Almost immediately local spiked as Evoke stealth bombers and recon cruisers warped in, surrounding the out-numbered TG gang. The resulting fight was brief and one sided, with Evoke commenting that they were more than happy to trade a bubble for a Tech III cruiser.

Time will tell how resilient Teutonic Guard are, as for now it seems constant harassment from SF and Evoke will be the order of the day in this system.

Moving on to Assah I noticed a curious thing. Pandemic Legion and Evoke ships were undocking from the Ammatar station and completely failing to shoot one another. So some form of agreement between these two alliances would appear to exist. I've been reading reports recently of Pandemic Legion attacking Deklein Coalition assets in Venal, so perhaps these attacks are being bank-rolled by Evoke in revenge for being evicted from Cloud Ring.

Further exploration of nearby systems revealed Sovereignty Blockade Units deployed in two Daisho Syndicate systems. I can't confirm that this is the beginning of an Evoke invasion however since the SBUs in question appeared to be owned by Daisho themselves. While rumours abound, it remains possible that Evoke has been invited to take sovereignty by the New Providence Holders, rather than intending to take systems by force.

In the meantime this is Rebecca Aventine, somewhere in Providence, signing off.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Achtung Baby!

So I went and lost the Dramiel.

This is the second ship I've lost to a well executed BDEAL ambush. And once again I paid the price for underestimating these guys. I've got their systems bookmarked now which is some consolation, but not worth losing a faction frigate over.

Not that I'm bitter or anything, bastards.

Moving swiftly on in a brand new, and significantly cheaper interceptor, I've been encountering a few scouts from Evoke in the region, which would confirm the announcement that this German alliance previously based in Cloud Ring is coming to play in Providence.

Back when I was in The North, Evoke would regularly come roaming through Deklein in gangs of 20 to 40 sniper HACs and kick our newbie asses. This primarily due to two reasons. Firstly they were better than us, and secondly, their spies had completely infiltrated our organisations. POS passwords, intel channels, comms, you name it, they had it. Basically, they're pretty good.

So are they coming to claim sovereignty in Providence or just looking for good fights? Well, I swung by Assah earlier and did spot some Evoke and Ewoks pilots. A few transport ships came and went, so possible staging post there already, but it's too early to call just yet.

The other big news is that Pandemic Legion are disbanding, allegedly.

I have to say I'm having trouble believing it. After spearing heading the destabilization of The South, and toppling some pretty old and established alliances, I'm having trouble believing they would just sort of give up after losing a few billion in Tech III cruisers to CVA.

I don't know. Maybe they've run their course. I'm not privy to their internal narrative, so perhaps they really are all disheartened, burnt out and just plain had enough of hot dropping super-capitals in Providence for giggles.

On the other hand, their pilots are still hanging out in Assah, sharing the same station as Evoke. So the possibility that the Germans have hired them is one that's probably sending shivers down the collective spines of New Providence right about now...

One last thing to mention. I've been popping into Taz Norlonto now and then, and it's eerily silent, no sign of the Star Fraction at all. No idea where they've got to, but I came across a rather good report by Jade Constantine in the EVE forums, wherein she tells a gripping tale of guerilla warfare fought by the SF in the defence of their station. Now quite often Jade gets bogged down in rather dry idealogical arguments with her opposites, but this particular report is a good one, and well worth a read.

In the meantime, this is Rebecca Aventine somewhere in Providence, signing off.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Bat Home Sold?

So I was trawling various news sources when I happened to notice that two systems in Providence had dropped sovereignty. Previously held by Bat Phone (aka RING) these two systems lay in the former Noir Mercenary Group constellation, next door to recently acquired CVA systems.

It looked worth investigating, and since I had just refitted a second hand Dramiel, it would be a good excuse to test the Angel Cartel frigate's blockade running ability if nothing else.

Entering Providence via Dital, The Dramiel proved it's worth when I encountered a Soda-Lite (sic) gate camp looking for an easy kill. I engaged the MWD and was punched back into my pilot's seat as I accelerated out beyond their reach. A swarm of light drones trailed in my wake, unable to keep up with the sheer velocity this little frigate is capable of.

The campers promptly warped to the next choke-point ahead of me, so I took a detour off the pipe into Daisho Syndicate's constellation and had a snoop around.

It seemed fairly quiet, with perhaps a dozen or so Daisho pilots going about their business. I saw a Rapier and a Hyena on scan a few times, both ships being know for their extended Stasis Webifer range, but they didn't seem to be terribly interested in me and I returned to the main pipe without incident.

By now the way was clear, and I made rapid progress towards my destination, crossing one empty system after another, eventually coming to halt in S9X-AX.

Legio Astartes Arcanum had deployed Sovereignty Blockade Units in this CVA held system, and both the Infrastructure Hub and the Station there were reinforced with timers counting down. No doubt a storm would be coming, but for the time being everything was quiet so I moved further on.

Entering GA9P-0 I found what I had come for. A Swedish alliance known as The Kadeshi (aka THOR) had deployed a TCU, with mere minutes left on it's countdown. And I wasn't the only one who had been drawn here. Aralis the leader of CVA himself, was present in system along with an observer from BDEAL who also seemed to have taken an interest.

I sneaked in to get an look at the Territorial Claim Unit parked above what appeared to be a fairly well armed POS, and managed to engage my ship's cloak before it's weapon systems registered my presence. A few THOR pilots passed in and out of the system, but remained tight-lipped on what had transpired here. Though it seemed obvious that some deal had been struck with Bat Phone.

The background to all this centers around Noir's exit. Upon returning from fulfilling a mercenary contract outside the region, Noir discovered they had been stabbed in the back. The New Providence Holders had given the go ahead to THOR to take over Noir's systems. Unable or unwilling to fight off this attack, Noir decided to spite their former allies by handing everything to CVA.

Being a quite small alliance, Bat Phone's role appears to have been to help THOR snatch sovereignty out from under Aralis's nose, and cement THOR's grip in this stellar pocket. A role I would assume they were well rewarded for. In the meantime this brings THOR's number of systems up to four, and no doubt they'll soon start looking towards taking the two CVA systems next door.

But for now, this is Rebecca Aventine somewhere in Providence, signing off.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Duct Tape Surprise

So I went and bought a Vagabond.

When I took a break from EVE I left Minmatar Cruiser V on the training queue to mature. The idea was to have a ship that was fast enough to get out of trouble, have enough fire-power to do a bit of ratting on the side, and not break the bank.

Knowing me, I'll probably lose it today or tomorrow at some random gate camp.

Boom! Head-shot!

Anyway...

In the red corner operating out of Assah we have Pandemic Legion. I still have no idea why they took an interest in Providence. I'm assuming someone around here hired them but who knows. They seem to be having fun, bless 'em.

In the blue corner we have CVA operating out of Misaba, and now supported by a small coalition of allies. They're beginning to put serious pressure on the systems in the west pipe. Aided by a parting gift from Noir as they exited stage right. Amarr Victor!

In between these two forces is a loose coalition called New Providence, inhabited by mercenaries, pirates, freedom fighters and a surprisingly high number of Tournament fighters, most of whom will shoot you on sight, but hey, it's all good fights.

Meanwhile making a break for sovereignty outside Providence is Circle of Two. Do they intend to retain their systems in the region or have they set their sights on leaving entirely? To be honest I haven't a clue what's going on really.

Oh well, so much for my investigative reporter skills.

So yeah, I was snooping around the west pipe in attempt to recreate my set of Providence bookmarks which, like an idiot I had previously deleted, when I encountered some hot bunny action. Well, credit were it's due, it was actually a Nulli Secunda pilot who gave me the hot tip and directed me to the battle, with the parting shot, “I hope you're wearing clean underpants.”

I was indeed wearing clean underpants, fitted with confidence boosting Improved Cloaking Device II. So I hopped through the gate and twitched my nose at a roaming Heavy Assault Cruiser gang piloted by... ...well, Pink Bunnies. Hailing from Poland, this pirate corp was busy smashing a New Providence response fleet of Drakes. As a Gallente pilot I am of course always, always very happy to see Drakes getting smashed.

Thank you Pink Bunnies.

So I really should mention Chribba. Another parting gift, but this time from the former Ushra'Khan was bestowed upon the legendary pilot. Unity Station at the crossroads of Providence in 9UY4-H is now owned by Chribba's Otherworld Enterprises, and is open for business to all and sundry. Souvenir models of the Veldnaught are available at the gift shop next to the medical centre for all your clone needs. Think of it as the YMCA of Providence, only with scary psychotic room mates.

And in the final news round up I can report that the On The Rocks SBUs outside Taz Norlonto are no longer there, so thumbs up for the Star Fraction. While over in the other end of Providence the Imperial Order SBUs outside Manifest Destiny appear to have been despatched by CVA and allies, though the station itself remains in Imperial Order's possession.

In the meantime this is Rebecca Aventine, somewhere in Providence, signing off.

Friday, 22 October 2010

And She's Back

So I went and reactivated my EVE subscription...

After flying in the NC for a couple of months followed by a break from EVE for another few months, I had finally got the itch to fly internet spaceships again. I prowled around the various EVE related forums, pondering whether to take the plunge again, and discovered a juicy little scandal about none other than my very OWN Alliance.

At first glance it seemed that Test Alliance Please Ignore had uncovered that the OWN leadership was lining it's collective pockets with moon mining profits to the tune of a sweet 150,000,000,000 ISK, while poor OWN peasants in the rank and file had to look to themselves to finance ship losses.

Meanwhile OWN leadership was claiming this was all a psych-op by TEST to troll OWN into fail-cascade, and told OWN pilots to block messages from TEST.

I suspect there's some truth to both sides of this sorry tale.

When Tau Ceti Federation handed over their space to Goon Swarm Federation, a number of smaller alliances such as OWN who were previously guests of TCF came as part of that package. I imagine GSF weren't overjoyed at the thought of having to take all that on. So if some justifiable reason could be found to boot them out, they would not hesitate to do so.

On the other hand, I can personally vouch that there is no shortage of arrogance and self-importance in the OWN Alliance leadership, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were equally corrupt. Still it raises the question whether it's any business of TEST and GSF to know what OWN does with it's virtual money.

Apparently The Mittani thinks it is his business, because a few days later he asked OWN for their directors' APIs so he could audit the alliance. The OWN leadership promptly refused to do so, and told their pilots not to join GSF/TEST fleets. Meanwhile TEST opened it's doors to OWN Corporations and Pilots who wanted to jump boat and remain in Deklein under a new banner.

Anyway...

Before I took a break from EVE I transferred the bulk of my assets out of null-sec, because who knew when I would be coming back. So I no longer had a stake in all of the above drama. Rather, my attention was drawn to the South, because while I had been away massive sweeping changes had taken place.

Atlas, Ushra'Khan and Against All Authorities were all gone. What would New Providence do now that UK and AAA were no longer around to keep order?

I decided if there was a story to tell in Providence, I wanted to be the one to tell it. So I left the North behind me, and plotted a course to my old stomping grounds.

Once upon a time, low-sec scared me. And it was with no small trepidation that I jumped into a 0.4 system from the safety of high-sec. However, in time I learnt my way around low-sec and became confident, even blase about travelling through it.

My experience in the NC had now left me feeling the same way about null-sec. So when my autopilot decided that the best route to my old home of Assah was through Providence null-sec, I figured what the hell and just went with it. Especially since the route it had picked would take me through the Star Fraction's NRDS system, and I was curious to see how things had turned out for them.

Not too well it seemed. Sovereignty Blockage Units had been deployed in YWSO-Z by an alliance called On The Rocks (aka ICE). A few Star Fraction pilots were in system, but nothing like the numbers I had previously been accustomed to seeing. I messaged a pilot I recognised – Claire XXX, and asked how things were going and she gave me an intriguing reply.

It seemed a self appointed entity calling itself the New Providence Council, had decided that YWSO-Z was up for grabs and had directed ICE to take Sovereignty. Claire claimed SF had fought and broken this intruder and chased it back into high-sec. However the SBUs still remained in spite of a truce deal to have them removed.

She hinted a lot more was going on, and offered to do an interview – which may well make the basis of a future post.

Moving on I continued towards Assah, where I received another shock. I remembered Assah as a fairly obscure humble little back-water on the Providence border. It was a place I considered a home from home, a place where 12 in local was considered a crowd.

Today there were over 100 pilots in local.

Not just any 100 either, but 100 of the big bad scary and officially elite pilots of the infamous Pandemic Legion.

Thankfully none of them were on the G5EN-2 Gate, and I managed to sneak into the Ammatar Naval Base without incident. Of course getting out again could prove amusing.

Still one thing's for sure, I'm definitely were the action is...

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

(Not) Grim Up North

So I went and joined the Northern Coalition.

I had been toying with the idea of throwing my lot in with one alliance or another for a month or so, after coming to the conclusion that it was difficult to exploit the wealth of 0.0 space solo. Dodging hostiles and exploring in a fast cloaky ship is fun, but it's hard to get anything else done.

I was also intrigued by the idea of seeing what these organisations that owned sovereignty looked like from the inside. How did they work? What was their modus operandi?

I finally stumbled across a recruiter for Synergy, a former wormhole corporation that had joined OWN Alliance, which in turn was a member of the NC. After a quick chat and review of my limited API, I was accepted with a speed that surprised me, and directed towards a intimidating amount of orientation material.

Jump bridge maps, intel channels, logistics, voice comms... ...it was a bit overwhelming, but I was impressed by the sheer organisation of it all. The North appeared to be a coherent entity.

I spent an afternoon organising assets I wanted to take with me to Jita, and set off to my new home. It was a strange journey. I had gotten used to entering null-sec in a state of heightened paranoia, with the expectation that every other capsuleer I encountered was out to get me. But before I knew it I was at my destination. It had been over 20 jumps, but since I hadn't needed to scout every gate or put down bookmarks or dodge hostiles, the journey had flown by. System after system was populated by pilots denoted as friendly allies, or otherwise empty.

It almost felt like high-sec.

The Synergy crowd turned out to be a decent bunch with a lively banter going on over the voice comms. And with so many corps and alliances integrated together there always seemed to be something to join in with. As the first weekend passed I began to find my feet and participated in a number of fleet ops including an small engagement with a roaming gang of hostiles and an large assault on an enemy POS – sadly marred by lag.


So far it's been a lot of fun, and if I never look at a level 4 mission ever again, it won't be too soon.