“There’s that Cheetah on d-scan again” I said as I adjusted my probes to scan the next cosmic signature in the system.
“Perhaps it’s just scouting the chain?” suggested Trevier, the crew chief of my Stratios cruiser who I’d been working with for a number of months now.
“Perhaps. Though I’m suspicious that it’s just appeared after our probes have been out near that citadel.”
“What do you propose? We’ve only found the one relic site in this system. We could leave it and jump to the next wormhole?”
“Let’s warp to 100km from the site and see if there’s any activity. If the Cheetah is sniffing around we’ll leave it.”
Staying cloaked, I land the Stratios 100km from the relic site, a Guristas monument site which I hope will break my run of bad luck and net me a nice pay day. Forty million ISK would be good, maybe more depending on the loot in the cans.
D-scan is empty, no sign of the covert ops frigate which was causing us so much concern. I warp us back to a safe spot in an empty part of space.
“Looks like it’s gone” says the chief
“I don’t like it. Why hasn’t it run any of the sites?”
“We could just do the relic site and get out, keep our eyes peeled and be gone in 15 minutes?”
“Alright. I’m going to warp to 30km and move slowly to the first can. I want to hear the minute something appears on grid.”
Again I warped to the site. I selected the nearest can and approached it slowly. The Stratios cruiser can be a formidable ship in a fight but I’d made the decision to remove guns from it, choosing to avoid conflicts altogether instead of standing my ground. The covert ops cloak fitted to the ship is now my best defence, but that means we are at our most vulnerable when we de-cloak to hack sites.
Trevier’s voice came through my pod “That’s the can within targeting range.”
I checked d-scan one final time, seeing nothing of note on the scanner and turned off the cloaking module. Nothing happened.
“OK. Looks clear let’s crack the can and get out of here” I announce to the chief.
Orbiting the can at 2500 metres I prepare the Relic Analyser module for the process of hacking the can so we can access the loot inside. All of a sudden I see a flash of grey on my grid overview.
I immediately hit the cloak and shout to the rest of the ship “We have company!”
Mentally, I cross my fingers as the camera drones show my ship disappearing from space just as another Stratios lands right on top of me.
Trevier’s voice tells me what I already know “Shit! They’re going to decloak us that close”
The cruiser shudders as I launch a flight of ECM drones and target the newly arrived ship as the first alarms sound around me informing us we’ve been targeted ourselves. I fire an ECM burst and instruct the drones to follow up with their own jamming capabilities, desperately hoping to break the lock so I can cloak again and escape. I try in vain to warp out but the ship has us pointed, so instead I align to a safe spot and wait to see if the countermeasures can get us free.
I fire off a neutraliser module to try and drain my opponent’s capacitor to minimise any damage they can deal to us. At that moment I’m alerted to a second ship appearing on grid, a Broadsword, and suddenly we’re engulfed by a warp disruption bubble.
“Watch the capacitor!” the chief says over comms “We’re dead!”
Another alarm sounds telling me I’ve burned through my own capacitor reserve trying to save the ship. There’s nothing left to stop the attack as I watch our shields and then our armour disappear with every shot from the ambush.
“Sorry chief. It’s been a pleasure having your crew fly with me”
“Just make sure the crew are looked after Gaston” comes the reply.
I send the instruction to my broker to distribute the coming insurance payout to the families of the crew. It’s not enough but it’s something. As the alarms continue to sound louder in my pod I decide if I’m to lose this ship I’m going to do it in style. I swing towards the enemy Stratios and activate the last module I have left, my Signal Cartel issue festival launcher.
Fireworks shatter the space around us in a defiant celebration of my loyal crew, as the last of my armour is destroyed and the hull begins to break apart. My capsuleer’s pod blasts free from the disintegrating wreck of my once beautiful ship and I have a few moments to sit quietly in space, contemplating the folly of going into the relic site against all my better judgements just because I wanted to do right for my crew, who are now lost with the ship.
“Farewell chief” I say quietly as the Broadsword fires on my pod and I feel my consciousness fire across the ether towards my awaking clone back in Thera.
I wake to absolute silence. Not even the sound of memories echoing in my mind. As my eyes and other senses begin to adjust I realise I’m cocooned in a container. No. Not just a container, a clone bay. Once the realisation sets in sound returns, a faint beeping outside the box I woke in and the steady hum of the respirator covering my face. Memories also start to float back into my head. The monotony of wormhole scanning in space, getting sloppy, forgetting to d-scan, being distracted by a debate around which firework gives the prettiest hug in alliance chat… the alert of my shields failing, deciding to stay and fight instead of running away, the crunching roar of my frigate wrenching apart then the alarms going off in my pod before nothing but black…
“Ugh, damn. Not again. That’s the 3rd time this month” I say as The Sanctuary attendant helps me to my feet, after removing the neural link from the back of my head.
“You’re becoming quite a regular here Mr Charante” he replies.
“Yeah I know. I didn’t expect to make such a habit of it.”
An hour later and I’m sitting in my quarters on Loom after a long shower and a cold beer. Dressed again in my red flight jacket with its Signal Cartel patch on one shoulder and Eve Scout patch on the other. I’m musing to myself about what it means to follow The Credo, a way of life we agree to when we sign up to Signal. In my head it means that we avoid trouble, never instigate conflict, always look to be helpful and respectful to all in New Eden regardless of provocation or affiliation. Now some of our members like to skirt the fringes of that and certainly many of my fellow scouts are more than capable of defending themselves should they get jumped in a wormhole.
Me? My record speaks for itself. I’m getting pretty tired of waking up in the disorientation of an awakened clone. Plus it’s getting hard to keep the books in the black when I’ve got to replace so many ships.
If we are truly a service corporation and here to help the citizens of New Eden why do I even fit guns on my ships in the first place? Also why do we not shoot capsuleers but the Serpentis are fair game? Plenty of capsuleers are just as bad as those pirates.
Glancing out towards the hanger I can see my Stratios docked through the window. The beautiful Sisters of Eve ship with its spectacular outline just waiting for me to get my act together and get back into space. What would that outline look like without the hybrid cannons mounted along it?
I opened another beer and sat at a console with a fitting tool open to run through some ideas.
“Dude, where’s your ship’s guns gone?”
“Shut up” I mumble to the gang of torpedo jockeys hanging out by door of the bar as I jogged back to my quarters. I just had to place a few last minute orders on the market and I’d be ready to undock.
The ship looked weird, I had to admit that. Gone are the banks of guns, replaced with defensive modules only. A mix of cap neutralisers, ECM, targeting systems and drone systems. All designed to give me time to get away, not deliberately do damage to others. I’ve also scrounged up some rep drones should I stumble upon anyone in need of help.
As I hit the undock and wave at the waiting campers I repeat the promise to myself I made after waking up in that cocoon of a clone bay again.
No more needless ship losses. Do what it takes to get away. Fly in the spirit of the credo and fly clever.
Hanging around to fight is a good way to get killed. From now on I run and hide or don’t get caught in the first place.
A few weeks ago I was relaxing in station preparing to head out to investigate some reports of sleeper activity, when a flurry of noise came over corporate comms. It seemed that there was a special surprise in store for a friend of Eve Scout by the name of Mark726. Due to a wormhole related timing phenomenon I had a panicked shuttle flight to the Signal Cartel office in Zoohen to try and reship in time for the op staging, only to find when I got there that I still had over an hour to kick my heels.
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who showed up a bit early and after jumping in my Party Boat – a fully festival launcher fit Talwar – I headed over to Jakanerva where a citadel had been anchored by The Evesploratory Society to be named The Eve Travel Rest Stop in Mark’s honour (Eve Travel is Mark’s popular guide to some of the galaxy’s must-see tourist spots, essential reading for explorers like ourselves; give it a read next time you’re in station).
We spent some time admiring each other’s ships… or in my case being asked politely to move away from the pretty battleships as my bucket of rust was spoiling the pictures, before we all hurriedly docked in the citadel to await Mark’s arrival.
Once he was in system and on approach to the citadel we received the order to hit the undock en masse and begin surprising Mark with Signal Cartel HUGS – a huge barrage of fireworks and snowballs.
The sight was breathtaking as our fleet followed the small scout ship round the system for about 30 minutes lighting up space with thousands and thousands of oversized party poppers. Sadly I severely underestimated how long the event would last and quickly ran out of ammo for my festival launcher, but I hung around and focused my efforts after that to taking some pictures of the fleet in action.
Mark seemed genuinely moved by the event and the new citadel. It was great to be a part of one of the corp’s signature fleet events and some of the most fun I’ve had since graduation back in Cistuvaert.
After arriving in Thera and making myself familiar with Signal Cartel and its headquarters, I decided the best thing to do was get out into space and start exploring. I checked the latest wormhole lists from Thera, grabbed a ship, undocked and jumped into a hole connected to Catch. I spent some time hacking sites and dodging the roaming gangs of locals (activity was very high). Then I took a few tourist snaps for the Eve Scout Observatory while talking to my fellow scouts on the alliance channel.
For the next few days I scanned down some relic sites while dodging a high amount of local traffic as gangs roamed between Providence and Catch. The loot was good but I was spending a lot of time just doing the same thing I’d spent my time doing in Vale Of The Silent. I was glued to my maps showing activity in the area and monitoring local traffic like a hawk. I was being trapped into small sections of space and flying between the same pockets of quiet systems looking for sites that hadn’t yet been scanned down by the locals. Something had to change.
Signal Cartel and Eve Scout are wormhole organisations by their very nature. If I was to truly be a part of the corporation I needed to commit to that side of the game and learn how to survive in unknown regions of space. I opened the list of Thera connections again and checked for the nearest one to my current location. There was one over on the other side of Catch and it was listed as stable so I had time to carefully pick my way over to it and avoid confrontation.
From Thera I began jumping in wormholes and started to get used to flying without the benefit of monitoring local to see who else was nearby. The silence of wormhole space was deafening but at the same time it was reassuring and snug like a blanket. I fell into a routine of jumping into systems, marking a couple of safe spots then scanning down the sites. Aside from the occasional control tower there was little sign of other pilots travelling through the same space as myself.
The majority of wormholes I passed through would have five or six signatures to scan down. Usually out of those I’d hope to find one or two relic or data sites to try and fill my hold with some potential earnings. It was steady, if unspectacular, work as I fell into a flow of jumping, scanning and hacking from hole to hole.
After a few days of this I emerged from a wormhole in a new system. I marked my safe spots and started scanning. Then I blinked a few times. I closed my scanner and then checked it again. Apparently I was reading it correctly. There were 93 signatures in the system. This could take some time…
I activated my filters so any combat anomalies were removed from the list. That reduced the workload by around twenty sites. OK, we’re getting somewhere. The rest would need to just be scanned down the long way. On the bright side if I got the same return I was seeing in other systems I could hope to see a substantial payday at the end of it. I knuckled down and set to churning through the sites.
While I was busy scanning down around 70 sites one by one I was keeping myself amused by chatting with my fellow scouts on the corp comms. My previous corp and alliance were much larger than Signal Cartel and suffered from having far too many loud voices on their comms channels. It was always hard to filter the white noise to find any useful information or even just hold a conversation with a corpmate. Signal comms are a massive improvement – friendly, eager to help and encourage, there’s always someone online to talk to but at the same time the chat isn’t full of the noise of people who just like to fill the air with nonsense. It makes it a lot easier to build relationships with a new corp and to help each other when you have a problem. It also helps pass the time while you’re stuck in a dark wormhole scanning seventy signatures.
After some time I happened to mention my current predicament to my colleagues who responded with no small measure of sympathy. It was at this point that a thought occurred to me. A horrible thought that built from a small acorn into a large, brooding oak tree in my mind. I’m still new to wormholes and there’s a lot of nuances I have to learn, like the differences between each class of hole. Which led me to ask the question that had been entered my mind.
“So…” I piped up on comms “are faction data and relic sites found in ‘dangerous unknown’ space or is it just in ‘unknown’ space?” and just to make it clear I expanded with “Do C4 class holes and higher only contain sleeper sites?”. The answer to both was a quick, concise, yes. Bugger.
Basically I’d just spent the best part of an hour scanning to 100% around forty sites that I didn’t need to bother with. Still at least it was good practice and better to find out these things halfway through the list than at the end, as it now meant I could safely ignore anything that wasn’t a wormhole out of the system.
Every flight’s a learning experience.