A Carebear’s Tale (Guest Post by Astraea Ala)

In my time as a capsuleer, I have noticed that there are a number of writings about the adventures of the pilots of New Eden. Through the mist of back and forth bantering about nulsec politics, module changes, new ships, the incompetence of the CSM and the unfairness of the tactics of “blobbing” there are stories of capsuleers out there that gleam bright and true and clear as day in this endless night sky. These stories are the ones that inspire.

Usually, these stories include kills that show daring, tenacity, heroic tackles and wonderous escapes. Inspired by such tales, I figured it was time that I wrote a tale of my own. My tale, however, is different – it starts with this – a lossmail.

I did not kill anyone. I did not escape. There was no honour involved, no daring or heroics. I died a horrible death, alone in the vast emptiness of unknown space…

But let me start at the beginning. For almost a year I have been a member of Mise en Abyme. Despite M-E-A’s requirement that I actively engage in PvP combat, I have refused. It is not that I am afraid, but rather, that I prefer the quiet life of hauler, trader and manufacturer. To maintain my status as a member, I have had to bribed Xi ‘xar with free ships, isk and, on occasion… other things. However, the freedom from regulation, 0% tax rate and other benefits have made up for such necessary bribery and, on occasion, unnecessary indiscretions.

Fantasies aside, let me say this: I am no PvP pilot. I am, quite simply, a carebear. So why am I in M-E-A? Well, I have friends in M-E-A. Friends who are tenacious, daring, reckless and simply, fun to be around. Perhaps I have remained a member merely in order to live vicariously through them. Who knows? Perhaps I do not belong in M-E-A?

But let me begin the story…

A short time ago, Mise en Abyme moved into C3 wormhole with a static low security exit. A large Caldari “dickstar” Tower was donated to the corp and set up by erstwhile member, Horace Weatherspoon. The Tower was fueled and ready.

Now let me just explain something… Mise en Abyme has never been the type of corporation that has a home base. We move around. A lot.

Why Xi ‘xar insists on these movements is, mainly, unknown. Perhaps he grows sick of seeing the same pilots in space around him. Perhaps he seeks betterment through an ever increasing knowledge of surrounding regions and the combative opportunities that such regions have on offer. Perhaps he is on a quest to make central bookmark safespots in every lowsec system in New Eden. Perhaps in his eyes the stars on the other side of the gate are always brighter. Who know? Whatever the reasons, we have followed him on his mad campaigns, through thick and thin, to Metropolis, Sing Liason, Placid and Kor-Azor… and by damn we were going to follow him into this wormhole. M-E-A moved in and declared the Tower “home”.

Xi ‘xar wrote: “Consider the wormhole and the tower located within it as a roaming platform that allows everyone in corp to explore ever-changing lowsec space. Because the static lowsec exit changes reasonably frequently we have at our disposal an ever-changing landscape to explore. Remember when you read the M-E-A recruitment post and it said we were nomadic? Well now we are.

At first, wormhole life was quiet and filled with logistical nightmares. Members had to move ships into the wormhole and the Tower needed fueling. Members, in a break from their usually combat heavy activities, even began to shoot sleepers and reap the benefits of having isk on tap. But soon, all hell broke loose… the results were wonderful: silence. The echoes of our voices travelling on through space, reaching every solar system, every star and every planet. We were emptiness and blackness: Mise en Abyme – the mirror upon mirror, word within a word, the infinite, the hollow, the Abyss. We had disappeared… but that did not mean we were not “here”. We were simply “everywhere”.

But, almost as suddenly as this vicious campaign began, it was over… the Tower, despite being fully fuelled and stacked to breaking point with ECM and resistance arrays, was to be taken down. Our Wormhole campaign, by reason of the following, was over: “If you are looking for a corp wherein your CEO is willing to partake in administrative tasks, or where you expect the CEO to delegate boring tasks to people and ruin their life, please find another corp. The wormhole simply isn’t M-E-A. It never has been. It never will be. It was a fun experiment. To be perfectly clear, you (and I) should be shooting people in the fucking face, not fucking around with a Tower. Now let’s move on.

You have to give it to him… Xi does have a way with words.

So we moved. In a flurry of excitement, ships flew out of newly found high and lowsec exits. Everyone was tuned in and happy, getting all this rubbish out of this rubbish wormhole and back to Sing Liason… an old hunting ground and haunt which, according to the majority of ye olde M-E-A pilots, catered for the Corp’s “Golden Era“.

So it went until only Aeron and I remained. Xi ‘xar, Volstruis and all the others had fled the scene of their crimes, taking their ships with them and refusing to partake in any further administrative tasks. Aeron, loaded up with fuel blocks, strontium and bits and pieces of remaining ships, gave me a wave as he left through the static and began the arduous task of transferring the goods to a highsec trade hub while I began the arduous task of waiting for the tower to unanchor.

So there I sat, in a mostly empty Mammoth, bored out of my skull, with no hope of payment for time spent, wondering how to pass the time, wondering if M-E-A was a corp that I belonged in. There I sat. Staring into the Abyss. Waiting for it to stare into me.

And it did.

Something clicks in my mind… Holy Shit Astraea, something is on D-scan! Wake up! WAKE UP!!! I am forced out of my meditative slumber by a helios and something else with “Navy Issue” in its name. Not good. Not good at all!

I begin to align, completely forgetting about my cloak, mistakenly hitting my microwarpdrive and starting to sweat. The helios lands. Seconds later, the Augoror Navy Issue slips onto grid. He’s within 5km of me and I’m in big big trouble. I try to overheat, but remember that I don’t know how…

Dammit! He has me scrambled. My MWD shuts down and I slow boat away from the Tower. Beam lasers begin stripping away my shields. I’m almost into armour when I rip open my console and access the wormhole local channel.

Astraea Ala > “What? No ransom offer?

Prinzessin Leia > would you pay?

I consider this quite carefully. Should I plead for my life and the safe return of the tower? Surely doing so would be better for M-E-A as a whole? But my negotiation skills fail me – simply put, my aggressors are in the perfect position and I am in the worst position: They have – Highsec access, a mammoth tackled, guns and an unanchoring tower on grid. I have – Absofuckinglutelynothing.

How do you negotiate in such a position?

You don’t negotiate… you plead for a quick and painless death. But suddenly, I realise that I don’t want the tower… what I want is for my attackers to lose the tower… and that is not a matter for negotiation. As I have set out above, the tower was, in effect, already theirs. Now was the time to prove my worth.

Slowly, careful not to bring this to the attention of my attackers, I turn the Mammoth around and start heading back towards the tower. With my MWD shut down and my mammoth moving at ~50m/s I’m going to have to be entertaining for at least 14 minutes…

Astraea Ala > Possibly. Depends on the offer. I would very much like to get this tower out of here… and 14 minutes to negotiate isn’t bad.

Prinzessin Leia > 250 and we give you direct highsec outgoing

Astraea Ala > I’m thinking about it. Oh, and no, I don’t have backup coming. Does that offer include me taking the pos with me?

Prinzessin Leia > If you want to. Take whatever you want.

Time passes. Surprisingly, there is very little shooting going on at this stage. I’m slowly making my way back towards the Tower.

Prinzessin Leia > So come on yes or no?

Astraea Ala > Well, here is the thing. I’m very attached to that tower, but in general, I’m anti ransoms. In addition, there really is no guarantee that you won’t just blow me up anyway. Do you have any kind of record of honouring ransoms?

Prinzessin Leia > Take it with you. it´s your decision. If we kill you now your tower is lost. Just say yes or no. Now. If we kill you later your pos is also gone.

Astraea Ala > but I would be 250mil less rich

Prinzessin Leia > Okay 200m. last word yes or no. NOW

Astraea Ala > I think 100 mil is a better offer

Prinzessin Leia > Nope. POS is worth too much. Just say yes or no. NOW.

Astraea Ala > Well, its free for you

By this stage, I have managed to work myself into a better position. How? By not giving a damn. I don’t care if I lose my ship. I don’t care if I lose the tower (It was free anyway (thanks Horace)). On the other hand, Prizessin Leia is becoming desperate. She has begun issuing ultimatums and, at the same time, dropping her price. She wants that tower, she wants the kill and she wants the ransom…

And then comes the edge I have been searching for…

Prinzessin Leia > Come on I promise we wont kill you.

They are desperate enough to let me pull off my plan.

Prinzessin Leia > 200m.

Astraea Ala > I still think 100 is a better offer. That is 50 for each of you… and the anathema doesn’t even need to whore the mail to feel good.

Prinzessin Leia > 200m.

Astraea Ala > there are some wonderful sites in this wormhole too – it’s a good deal!

Prinzessin Leia > Nope we don’t want this WH.

Astraea Ala > You could sell it.

Prinzessin Leia > Nope.

Astraea Ala > 500mil easy for this w/h.

Prinzessin Leia > We dont want this crap wh.

Prinzessin Leia > 200m go

Astraea Ala > It has a lowsec static. I’m telling you, you could get a damn good price for that.

Prinzessin Leia > I don’t need your wormhole! Just give us 200m and you can go!

Astraea Ala > ok ok

Prinzessin Leia > 200m and we go away

Astraea Ala > Jeez, you drive a hard bargain. What about 150?

Prinzessin Leia > Nope 200m

Prinzessin Leia > NOW

Astraea Ala > The Tower is worth about 290

They start shooting the hell out of me. My shields are gone and I’m dipping deep into hull.

Astraea Ala > Ok ok!

Astraea Ala > Who should I pay?

Prinzessin Leia > Me

Astraea Ala > So 200mil and I get free access to highsec and the tower?

Prinzessin Leia > 200m and we just go away

I decide to take a last chance as I get within 3 km of the tower… I need ten more seconds.

Astraea Ala > I think I’ll take my chances.

The shock takes about 5 seconds to register in their minds.

Prinzessin Leia > then just die!

My recharged shields dissapear. My armour is stripped and my hull begins to leak frozen emptyness….The tower unanchors moments before I scoop it!

Astraea Ala > Lets see… maybe it drops!

Prinzessin Leia > Not dropped

My pod whooshes away from the scene of the battle. It is true, I died. I lost my ship. But I did so with style, attitude and aplomb, mocking my aggressors all the while. Considering that in the end, I lost no more than a few isk and my attackers lost a 250 million isk asset, I have realised that yes, I do belong in M-E-A.

The Truth

Deep in the shadows of your deepest secrets
I sleep next to the precepts you hold most dear
Your heart is in my province hour upon hour
I shiver when you feel the cold,
Everything you say I hear
Like a bomb and its fuse,
We bring bright light
But I could be a devil to you

My engines roar to life as I align towards Belt X-1, pointing the nose of my Hurricane directly at the the Ferox, Vengeance and Retribution sitting some 300km away. Jack’s Myrmidon is already aligned and all we need to do now is distract them from the truth.

To distract them from the truth, we must first posit a false truth.

Jack starts talking shit in local and I add to it with the odd quip or some unimportant trivia. They start to respond. Chitter chatter chitter chatter… Together, we are filling local with the kind of junk that causes true capsuleers to consider not updating their clones.

We have already tried to attack them at the belt but they simply warped off to an on grid tactical safe some 300 klicks off. Their plan now is to sit still and look like viable targets until we get into range. Once we are at a range at which we might start getting excited, they will align and then warp off, leaving us high and dry and without satisfaction.

We know what their plan is. They know that we know what their their plan is. As convoluted as it sounds, they also know that we must know that they know that we know their plan.

In their search for truth the first step must be a question. Without the question, the truth can never be ventilated. If truth is not sought, it cannot be discovered. They have taken the first step. They have asked the question:

So why are we approaching them?

We are not going to catch them – they are 300km away, have eyes on us and are at a safespot. We are not inexperienced PvP pilots. We must know that our approach leads only to a lack of satisfaction.

We have checked the surrounding systems and know that they have no backup. I focus on their ships’ speeds – 0m/s. Perfect – everything is going according to their plan. I check in with Amber. More nonsense fills the local channel – there is even reference to old media and various exchanges are made regarding the “fairness” of capsuleer combat (an issue which, apparently, neither party regards as important).

We shoot some rats, providing them with an opportunity to warp to the wrecks as we continue to slowboat towards them. They do not respond. We destroy the wrecks, denying them the opportunity of warping in. They respond with afew jabs and thrusts in local about whether or not we want a fight.

If we don’t want a fight why are we approaching them?

Of course we want a fight… but in New Eden, You get used to a lack of satisfaction and a dry existence where PvP combat is fair. A life where PvP combat is predictable and safe.

Assumed truisms are necessary in their search for truth. Glimpses of such “truths” arise in their minds. We know we can’t actually attack them but are slowboating towards them because we are bored and they are the only viable targets in the surrounding systems. We are all here to have fun and we are willing to risk a lack of satisfaction in order to obtain fun. We are “friends” or perhaps even “colleagues” engaging in an honourable “debate” in which our weapons speak and counterpoints are made by electronic warfare, range and tanking. We are all just capsuleers looking for a good time. We are friends engaging in the recently proclaimed “fight club community” that is lowsec pvp.

I check in with Jack. He is aligned and ready. Amber gives the go ahead and the countdown ensues.

I land directly on top of the vengeance and point him. Jack calls point on the Ferox as my my 425’s unleash hot fire in every direction. Local is suddenly quiet – this wasn’t part of their plan.

We are not here to make friends. We are not here for the conversation. Lowsec is not “fight club”. Lowsec is our domain and we are here to kill you.

The truth. As pure and simple as it gets.

Campaign: Kor-Azor

Following our successful, but somewhat boring Metropolis Campaign, Mise en Abyme moved to Kor-Azor lowsec.

Kor-Azor contains a number of small lowsec pockets and is linked to a number of other regions containing small lowsec pockets and, to our delight, a number of DED sites. Our campaign has stretched throughout such areas and, on occassion has included high security space.

In general, the Kor-Azor campaign has been overwhelmingly successful. The campaign was kicked off by Xi ‘xar and Volstruis in Ami and has been littered with successful ganks, unfair fights, fights involving overwhelming odds, brutal murders, wormhole ganks and some rather fun moments.

On occassion, good fights were had. However, this has not been the norm. Mainly, this campaign has been a learning experience – Miners have been taught valuable lessons. Faction fit Dramiels have finally been taught their proper place. Even this Navitas pilot learnt a lesson.

When it turned out that January was our best ever month, Xi ‘xar threw down the gauntlet and challenged Mise en Abyme members to up their game even further. M-E-A members responded positively to the challenge – February held an even higher number of kills, fewer losses and simply put, better kills.

Surprisingly, February also held two wardecs issued against Mise en Abyme. Neither wardec has yet lead to any noteable fights, simply appearing to have been carebears or bitter vets wasting isk in an attempt at vengeance.

Noteably, over 1.2 billion isk worth of Pods and Implants have thus far been destroyed by Mise en Abyme Pilots during our Kor-Azor campaign

We have no intention of abandoning the campaign at this stage. For the time being, Kor-Azor will remain our “home”.

I leave you the reader with this recording of the Local Channel, captured by one of our pilot’s automated log system:

Azriel Dahma > I give up
Xi ‘xar > Don’t.
Jack Tygra > Do. You are terrible. You have no place in this universe. Please send me your iskies before you go.
Druken Sailor > ^
Xi ‘xar > Don’t listen to jack – he’s a sad man
Azriel Dahma > You’re right. Real life is much more fun. I have 285mil who wants it
Xi ‘xar > I’ll take it
Azriel Dahma > Xi xar take it
Xi ‘xar > Thank you very much.

Press Release: M-E-A Membership Grateful for Assistance

Mise en Abyme pilots would like to sincerely thank both The Sleepers and The Amarr Navy for their most welcome assistance with our projects.

Without those mentioned above, our members may not have survived the following engagements:

– The elimination of a Navy Issue Scorpion and Drake (together with capsule) in wormhole J132737; and

– The removal of a rogue Vagabond and Sacrilege from Genesis

In addition, Mise en Abyme pilots welcomed the call to arms by the Blood Raider Covenant.

Your blockades will ever be successful should you again call upon us again. Our memory of the event is sweet. Clearly, the warning in local that “A local pirate gang has been called in to reinforce the blockade” was not sufficient for Lethiana Vokan.

Mise en Abyme looks forward to working with the above in future.

Operation: POS Raid

I pushed my cheetah forward slowly over the edge of the force field, curving down towards the mammoth. He was outside the force field, offlining the large anchorable lasers and although I had already previously tried to tackle him in a Jaguar, seemed entirely oblivious to my presence.

But I was too far and the necessity of maintaining my cloak until I was in proper range made my speed too slow. The mammoth pilot scooped the lasers into his cargo hold and began re approaching the force field. Before I could reach him, he breached the shields and stopped, entirely safe.

Stay aligned – maybe he does something stupid” I said over comms to Vic and Amber, who were waiting just outside of d-scan range.

Amarr Control Tower Medium:  Unanchoring – 19 minutes 59 Seconds Remaining.

The force field disappears. I align towards the Mammoth, de cloak, overheat everything and speed towards him at 3 kilometres per second, desperately trying to target him

Point! Warp to Xi warp to Xi!”

Vic lands first in a rifter, instantly webbing the mammoth and opening fire. Amber’s Brutix seals the deal.

I catch the pod and call in my old partner in crime Volstruis to finish the job.

19 minutes later the control tower is safely stored in the corporate hangar awaiting sale in Amarr.