28 February 2009

Blog Banter #5: Meet Paul

This month’s topic comes to us from Mynxee of Life in Low Sec. She asks “Alts and Metagaming: Is playing two accounts who are logged in at the same time and work together (hauler/miner, explorer/combat associate, trade alts in trade hubs) a form of metagaming that is “ruining the game”?

Meet my brother Paul.

Paul is an alt. He does not know he is one, or he pretends not to know, but I think he is an alt. My alt.

For starters, he has this uncanny ability to show up just in time and do whatever it is that I need. If I am running a mission he may show up to salvage, or to haul. Sometimes he shows up to mine the gravi sites I explore.

I swear, he must know somehow when, where and what.

We are different. He is the quiet one, I am the chatty one. He has got Maman's eyes and I have Papa's -but there is still some resemblance. I joined UC, he went to CAS. But I think that what is amazing is, how different we have chosen to be, how complementary our skills and career paths have become since he returned a year ago... it is as if we intentionally avoided doing each other's stuff, even the stuff we plan for the future! I have given up on research, for example, knowing that he will help me with my blueprints; he relies on me for fast courier runs.

Paul does stuff that I would not touch with a 10 km pole like, mining or refining. Boy, does he know rocks ("we don't call them rocks, Quin, it's ore"). He's got this sick sense of humor; often sends pics of industrial accidents signed 'Wish you were here.' You should see the guy's eyes twinkle when someone mentions hedbergite.

So what if he likes different stuff? The weird thing is that sometimes he will do stuff he does not like such as scouting ahead, joining a corp and I suspect he does not really care about getting podded.

We get along like, well, brother and sister, especially with other people around. I still remember that party at the Victory where my big brother introduced himself to everyone simply as "Mr. Delorois." Jerk. By the end of the evening some of my own friends were volunteering to spill their drinks on his face. Still, he sometimes flies me to events and parties when I have to dress up and can't ride in the pod. Maybe he wants me to hook him up with some of my friends. I have noticed how he looks at Miette...

So, lemme see.
  • Funny connection, we know what each other knows. Check.
  • Skill sets complement each other. Check.
  • He does stuff for me that he does not even like. Check.
  • Always there. Check.
Yup, an alt. Definitely, an alt.

Hmm. Does having such an amazing connection to someone else -know/complement/help/always- ruin other people's day in space? I do not think so. Everybody has their own connections, team mates, corp mates, brothers and sisters and friends and family. Stronger or weaker connections but, see, at the end of the day it is about people rather than spaceships. If you have people around you, alts or not, you are better off.

Now, it is certainly unfair. But not anymore than having a better spaceship or better modules. Maybe it does ruin life for lone wolf types but, hey, it should be a lesson for everyone to reach out and team up with someone.

So there. Meet Paul, my alt. Oh, and by the way? I introduced him to this metagame, RealLife(tm). Don't tell anyone, but we share a RL account.

Definitely, an alt.



26 February 2009

Pssst, ISD

Haha! Quick note to say that we made the ISD frontpage news.

Thank you so very much ISD, for attending the event and spreading the word :) My name is even there as the "organizer" of all that mess.

However, there is such a thing as a proper form of address. You know, it would have been nice to add something like, "Season 6 interceptors champion Quintrala." I have worked too hard for too long to get here, and I do not think I will be ready to let go of that until someone else takes the title away from my hands.

I am not here just to plan the party and pass the cheetos. D'accord?



25 February 2009

Racing Rookies

And the race went well :)

Eight people showed up in T1 frigates, it was actually 3/5 rookies to vets, but I still split them 4/4. I had the rookies play hide & seek with me at the starting line until I decloaked, then whoever was closest got to choose his vet first and so on. Four couples flying on a "blind vet." They had ten minutes to get to know each other a bit, get on fleet and voice and off they went!

Five minutes later I was bored silly. Not much happens on chat while people are racing.

But, I had an advantage - I knew where the track went so I had my, ah, cloaked cam at a nice spot in Egmar, which proved to be the best vantage point for watching the action like I had never seen before, half an hour later.

Oh boy, where to begin? With the fleet of locals that showed up in the middle of our track? Pirate acquaintance Shae mentioned later that Egmar happens to be GIS's base, rather than our track -I think she may have a point there. What about the fleet vanishing minutes before our first racer arrived? And it was the best waypoint ever: I saw Takashi warping in, then Kay and the rest... then Kazuo overtaking them both right there, warping out followed out by Kay and then Tak. You don't see that kind of flying every day (and if you are racing, you don't have time to notice). After all, very nice view.

Kazuo ran a surprisingly good race, he was smart and consistent and even beat Tak to the finish line (Kaz got a 5-minute penalty for a silly mistake, which did not really matter for the standings anyway). Kay came in 3rd and NeonFolf closed the line -he seems to have run slow just to keep pace with his rookie Kira.

Our rookies were amazing. Cai Lun (not really a rookie but, hey) won the race for himelf and Kaz. Dracoknight carried second for Tak, and today I hear he was promptly recruited by Tak's team. Bloodpetal was engaged by... an interceptor? and not only managed to get out alive, but came in just 10 seconds behind Draco. Last but not least, Kira Storm was shot down, but she re-shipped and came back to complete the race. That was probably the best part, to see her finish -as they say, the last person to finish a marathon deserves quite a lot of respect.

In the end I think it was a good race: eight racers out, two hours, eight racers in. I am happy that there were no major disasters with the organizing and hosting. I was just surprised and a bit stressed out by all the time it took me to go through all of it from the organization point of view (8-9 hours all things considered), so I am really looking forward to having KillJoy back to organize. There is a reason I am PR...

Anyway, as a reward, I treated myself with a quick ski trip. It is a shame Mt. Kaala is no longer a destination, I used to love that ;)

22 February 2009

Rookies & Vets

Everything is set for the Season 7 opening race. It is going to be an exhibition race, which means no scores and no official teams, basically everyone against everyone. With a twist, this time.

Some of the best racers will show up - rumour has it, Takashi coming back to the races; I think this means that VRT will be back in force. If true, this will be an amazing season. I really hope Dirtside will bring their best too.

But for this race, we are also inviting every rookie and potential racer in sight. What we are going to do is we pair rookies and veterans, ideally one and one. They should fleet, voice and race together, with the vet doing his stuff and helping the rookie along. At the end of the race, only the rookies will be scored.

The twist: awards go to the best rookies, and their vets.

So there you go. Our race is today, Sunday 22, in Metropolis. If you are interested, please come along to the "RACING LEAGUE" in-game channel at 19:00 for the pre-race; 20:00 race and we should be done by, say 21:30? Bring a T1 frigate with a microwarp drive, that's all.


I have this funny feeling that I am not going to finish the race this time...

Actually, I know for a fact I am not finishing. Haha, I am not even starting! For the very first time, I am running the show... KillJoy is away and so is Miette, so it falls on the PR person to do this (I must admit I also said yes out of curiosity, and not wanting to delay the season anymore)... and now because I am hostess and I know the track, I should not race.

Well, let's see how things look from the sidelines. This should be fun...


Racing Series
What happened before Season 7 - still being written.
See what happened next

19 February 2009

Racing Spy

November 109, ISGC Season 4, between races 3 and 4
Somewhere in Sinq Laison...

So I was testing the Poison Apple with her new rig. It was our secret weapon.

After months, we had finally gathered enough salvage for that second T2 polycarboard rig, used the second shot of Prof. Ryder's blueprint and set the fit crew loose on my racing interceptor.

Bye bye flying brick. Hello, gorgeous.

When they were finished she was lighter, therefore faster and nimbler when racing on MWD. Lots. People say Large T2 rigs are overkill, but every second counts and there is only so much that you can do with only two rig slots. You simply must have the best of the best. And there is nothing wrong with a few expensive treats. Mmmm, yes, one little problem: being dirt-poor. But having a kickass interceptor that cost the same as a small gang of battleships is sort of cool :)

It was time to go for a ride.

I eased her out of the hangar and set course to the test track. After a brief chat, Kay, Ken and I were up for it, I was going to try and see how much time I could cut the Auvergne-Renyn-Auvergne run from my 8 minutes and 20 seconds personal record. Also, I'd be watching Kay and I was sure she would be watching me. Race training is a chance to learn and improve.

Now think of it: how cool was that? The owners of the Big Three teams together, rivals chatting away at the test track. Only, Ken showed up in a Tristan and that is not exactly racing material.

A thought crossed my mind. Should I cloak? Too close. Nah, moving beyond range should be enough -MWD, eyeblink, orbit, there. Plus, he'd never shoot me.

But something was nagging me. Something was not right.

We chatted away for a while about stuff and then then Kay and I blasted off; Ken excused himself and had to go.

Eight minutes and fifteen seconds later (yay!), we were back to start another run.


Half an hour later we decided to call it quits. She was still faster with her Ares but, hey, I was improving my times and had been still watching her. She gated faster than I did, I rocked on align and approach. I was almost sure she was warping faster too.

Training over, we all ended up in the same chat channel. That's when it got interesting.

We talked about everything and anything and, at some point in time, Ken brought up rigs. Then T2 rigs. Specifically, Polycarbon Engine Housing II's. I complained about being a poor University student with no money -with 30M in the wallet it was completely true; it was because of the stupid price on poly materials but I was not about to say that- then Ken retorted with:

KZ > "Anyone using those things must be filthy stinking rich, or have a really big source of income."

*Dear reader. A distinction must be made now between what was said by a person (quotes), what was understood by the other person (translation) and, in some cases, what was really meant (meta-translation). Enjoy.

Translation*: I know your fitting.

Merde. Right then I knew what had nagging me: he had scanned me and probably Kay too. I simply knew it. Stupid, stupid Quin.

But Ken? He might as well have confessed right there. Why say anything to us? That was silly, in space we were vulnerable but in a chat channel we would pwn him. We would make him feel sorry for that...

Quin > I want T2, all the way :-) still wonder whether a poly/poly or a poly/hyper would be best...
Translation: I don't believe you. Prove it.
Meta-translation: I know you know and I am so going to make you admit to it.

KZ > I know who has 'em and who doesn't, so I'll know when to finally part with the cash.
Translation: Gotcha, and I am not telling you how.

How cute. Keep talking...

Quin > who has them and who does not?
Translation: Bullshit. You don't have a clue. La la la, Ken does not have a clue.
Meta-translation: Come on, tell us. You know you want to.

KZ > That's for me to know.
KZ > ...or not know. There's always the possibility I'm bluffing about my copious intel on rival teams. =P

Translation: I do have a clue, you silly woman. Wait. Damit, I think I am talking too much!

Ha, ha, too late.

Quin > Ken, just curious, are people in your team scanning other racers?
Translation: Boo! You have no secrets. What are you going to do now, come clean or lie to your friends?
Meta-translation: Game ooveer. Hello? You can tell us now.

The moment of truth...

KZ > Just so you ladies know, my intel comes from me. You've both been scanned. Whenever I've had the chance.
Translation: Aaaaah! I confess, I did it!

At that point the rest of the channel was paying attention. Kay was incredibly angry; Gyra, the Racing League organizer, jumped on him and threatened to kick him out of the channel. The point being, scanning during the race was expected and, during the race we would take precautions. But as friends... ouch. Where was the trust? He had taken pictures of stuff we wanted private.

(And before you remind me how stupid I was not to take precautions anyway, I will go and say yes, very stupid. I should have.)

He ended up feeling sorry. He had confessed not only to having scanned us both, but also to posting the results on his racing team's board. He promised to take everything down and make amends.

Moral of the story: read between the lines ;)


Within a day, his very own team convened to pass judgment. Before he died (no, no, that's a different story, he was not executed for this), Ken had been the owner of VRT and one of its racers, but Tak was the Captain and held the gavel. According to the team charter (his team has like a zillion rules - mine has one and it is "Have fun") he was reprimanded, suspended for like, two races, and fined ISK 10 million.

Two races. 10 million. And he did not like racing that much to begin with.

Grr. Even a dirt-poor University student can afford 10 million. I mean, paying 5 to get someone's scan is pretty much sale price. He had done it twice. At that price per ticket, even I would do that.

I was angry. And I was going to get back at him.


Racing Series
See what happened before
See what happened next

16 February 2009


It was October, YC 91.

I still remember Eram on my skin, sunlight warm and nice, a big green garden full of grass and trees and a pergola in the back. I was born there.

It was dad's first senior diplomatic assignment as an expert-technical-advisor-whatever-attaché to the Fed consulate to the Sebiestor tribe. We used to live in the expat district among so many foreigners and well-to-do Matari. My first memories are of stuff so alien to most that, well, it is just funny. Like people driving everywhere - sure, you can walk around at ground level but, it is so warm and things so far apart that by the time you get there, you need bug-bite cream and a clothes change. Airco rules. Or, playing with Paul in the mud, actual mud, in our garden without grownups yelling at us. Or, iguanas on the roof basking in the sun - mom once asked what could be done about those and was given a stew recipe, ew.

Totally alien, I tell you.

Anyhow, Paul and I attended this school nearby, the International School of Eram, where all the snobby kids like us would go wearing our little uniforms, learn boring stuff like reading and would go play out once in a while. I met my first friends back there, most of them Matari like Taro and Reba and Fred, and some expats like myself. On days off we would get together, sometimes at my place, sometimes at theirs.

By age four I had noticed something funny. Not a single one of the local kids was coming to my place. There was nothing wrong with the place, mind you. We had a room full of toys and dolls and holos and stuff, and my big brother even had that cool Capitaine Chasseur and the Fed Patrol set. But other than my Gallentean friends, no one else would ever show up. The strangest thing was, everything was nice and happy when I went to their places.

"Maman, why won't they visit with us?" I asked mom once.

She smiled. Did she suppress a giggle? Kids do notice, even if you do not think so "Oh, Catherine, do not worry about that, it is just a silly thing. You can always go play with them at theirs, if you want."

"But, I want to show them my stuff! Like this here my doll Anne and her friends, she never gets to play with my friends. And Taro has always wanted to see Paul's toys, but he will not come over and..."

She frowned a bit "Look, sweetie, there is this little thing called gossip. Do you know what it is?" I shook my head. "Gossip is when one talks to friends and then one's friends go and talk to their friends about the same thing."

I understood at once. "Okay, so the gossip lets us all stay in touch!" :D I had just found a new and very powerful means of communication. I wondered whose friends I could reach with this and all the new people I would meet, cool! I just needed to get myself a gossip and I'd be set.

Mom rolled her eyes. "Well yes and no."

She was being shifty, I knew, she wanted to hide this from me becausethegossipisagrownupthing or youarenotoldenoughforasubscription or something. I put my best face, smiled but stood my ground. "How so? Why? Can I have a gossip too? Please? Please?"

"A gossip is not something you have, it is something you do Cathi," -nobody called me Quin, yet- "You go and gossip with friends of yours, and they will go and gossip with theirs. It is fun but sometimes... it is not as fun."

So that was the problem. Mom then told me how she had learned from her friends, who in turn had learned from their daughters, that Reba had heard a story that went something like this:

They put something weird in the water supply at Gallente homes, so kids grow up to be dopeheads just like their parents.

And Reba was in a position to know. Her father, a chief at the waterworks, sometimes mentioned a mysterious Gallentean-sounding substance called 'Fleury' that went into the water. Our water.

Mom explained that it was called fluoride, silly, and it prevented your teeth from falling out when you grow up; that if parents sometimes acted funny, it was normal. As for the dopehead thing, our great nation is a free nation and people grow up to be dopeheads on their own, if they want to.

"So is Reba right? Is there something in our water?"

"No no, Cathi! There can only be good stuff in the water."

"Then why is Reba lying?"

"She is not really lying, she is just... mistaken. People make mistakes sometimes. She just does not know any better."

Now I know all these things, but back then it was heartbreaking. My friends would keep distance because of something I just knew not to be true. Reba never asked me directly before spreading the story, nor did any of the other kids. I wanted to scream my lungs out at her -I am not a dopehead!- but then screaming is not the most un-dopey thing there is. So instead of screaming, I talked to her the next time, to dispel her fears. Big mistake. She just took it as further confirmation that there was 'good stuff' in the water. How do you talk to people that do not want to hear? Anyhow, although we continued to be friends, she never visited chez moi.

That is how I became acquainted with The Gossip Monster. It bit me and hurt me, and there was nothing I could do but watch. But I would learn to tame it in years to come, oh yes I would. Gossip would never become an obedient pet, nor have I given to every one of Gossip's whim. But we have learned to respect each other.

I hope Reba is OK. It has been ages since I left Eram and we have not kept in touch. I hope she marries a dentist. ;)

Stay tuned. Q.

15 February 2009

Girl, interrupted

((I am sort of two-minded about posting this. Some people, including J., suggest it should be, so...))

Him > Ok, ask me one question, anything and I will answer it for you.

She was leaning back on the wall of the lift, holding down her handbag with both hands and looking at him. Why would he say such a thing? Was he trying to say something?

Something was about to happen.

Her > no, Jude, I will not. I will not ask that one.

She had only one question but she would be damned if she asked it. No, not so much in words. He had pushed her away before and, Gallic self-confidence aside, she was not about to step into that mess to be refused again. He was a mess, his own mess. She still let her eyes ask on her behalf. There would be no harm in that, would there? And she could always deny having said a thing. So she asked.

Her> /emote asks the question nonetheless, with her eyes

He had so many things in his mind. Questions, answers, words. He already had the answer, but just wanted to hear the question. However she was hell-bent on playing the subtlety game, of sending signals to be interpreted. He wanted a word. She wanted to be a puzzle? But Civire do not interpret; Civire do. Or don't.

Him > Damnit Quin, I am a Civire man, I do not do subtle.. out with it.
Her > /emote shakes her head> Welcome in my world.

Something was about to happen.

She closed her eyes. He leaned forward.

Something happened. The lift doors opened, letting all the magic out but leaving the startled two inside.

Opening her eyes, she quickly dissolved the distance between them, then hesitated... it had to be him, not her. How would she know the answer, otherwise?

((You bet something happened. After our second disconnect of the evening, the lights at his place went out totally killing RP. Going with the flow... half of that happened on evemail. Now, that sucked. Worst possible timing.))

I, Clone: Part 3

Part 1: Welcome Back
Part 2: The Goodness of Our Heart

Part 3: The many deaths of Kendar Zek

Kendar had died before, several times. Like many capsuleers, he had been killed in space, safely awakening as a pre-arranged clone with his memories intact. He had also, like many of Intaki descent, been reborn a new man, to the mixed blessings of pain forgotten. But unlike many people, he had found fiery death in a sun and ultimately, peaceful oblivion in his sleep.

Death was not new to him.

His answer was always the same: get up, let's go.

Kendar switched the desk off and straightened up. Enough for the day. He had recovered fifty million ISK already, mostly from the DNA-authorized deposits. He had spent eight hours plugged in dreaming and studying his own life, passion and deaths. Apparently he had a knack for getting killed and losing his mind, so in some way it was comforting to know he had gone through the same recovery ordeal before, and survived. Sort of.

It was a month already since waking up as a clone, and Kendar had dutifully followed his daily regime. Morning therapy, a couple of hours at the machine, then study the dossier, lunch. An afternoon nap to let his brain rest and sleep to weave his newfound memories back onto his rag of a brain. After the nap, he would work until evening therapy, dinner, free time, sleep.

Now, work entailed putting his frayed memory to use. He would interact with the outside world based on what he remembered. Baby steps, had recommended Coat.

The impersonal was easy; talking to banks and people who did not care whether he was Ken Zek, King Khanid or the Spirit of Emperors past. He would just provide DNA proof and they would be happy.

It was harder to talk to people who cared. Secor, usually as together as two peas in a pod, almost broke down at first when he saw him on the holo. That was shortly before becoming impossibly defensive -who could blame him, anyway. He had not spoken to Takashi yet. Maybe he had read the news on the forums, but talking face-to-face was what mattered.

The hardest part was the unexpected. People that Ken was supposed to care deeply about: there were none that he remembered, nothing in the dossier. Yet names of strangers kept popping up as he talked to people he knew.

"Have you talked to Ambriel?" had asked someone.

Ken did not have a clue who that was. Her name was not in the file, not a single reference and -surprise, surprise- he did not remember. So he got her contact and tried calling her next. Five minutes later, an uncontrollably sobbing woman had hung up on him.

Fiancée? How could they have missed that?


Doctor Kraak looked at the monitors, then back at the call reports. Kenny was progressing as expected. Of course he would hit a snag here and there, something unexpected would pop up once in a while. Nothing that next morning's therapy could not fix.

For Kendar's peace of mind, they had had a Talk. Not unlike a father-son talk, he smiled, the child needed careful guidance. He had warned Kendar that not everyone would receive him with open arms; some would be distrustful, some openly hostile. He should keep in mind that his recovery was supposed to be distressing for others. Very.

Now, there were unscrupulous people in the world. Some would even go as far as to try to get advantage over him, claiming some sort of privileged relation of friendship or, god forbid, love. He should beware of any long-lost cousin, flame, attorney, fiancée or wife. Oh, one had popped up already? And not in the dossier? It could be real or it could be a scam. Better be careful about that. It would be investigated, of course, he promised.

And promptly forgotten, tomorrow first thing in the morning.

Kraak's attention went back to a more mundane issue; where had he put his wallet?


Kendar had spent too much time without a drink. He needed a drink.

Heck, he needed a woman.

He had been disappointed not to find 'Kendar Zek's little black book' in the dossier. That would have been grand, not just because of the fun but because it could probably help him remember. He noticed that small shift in his priorities and welcomed another piece of himself back home. In any case, not all was lost. He called out to the comms and asked for the 'S' screen - Sugar...

No, wait. 'M' screen, Martens.

She had turned him down already so many times, saying she could be Nurse Martens, honey, and nothing else. But unruly patients happened once in a while. Kendar would not take 'no' for an answer, the next day he would be back and be twice as charming. By now, he had a feeling he was getting really close...

"Call Martens."

Get up, let's go.


They laughed as they reached her door.

"That was fun!"

"Yes. I can't remember when was the last time I had so much fun. And I mean it," he grinned, as he pulled her closer to him.

She looked at him "I think I should go now. Goodnight, Ken, and thank you."

No night cap? No way. "You heartless woman, you are killing me. I don't think I will survive," he said in mock pain.

"Of course you will, silly..."

It suddenly hit him. "Actually now that I think of it, I am dying. I was ill, I am only back for a while, am I not?" he asked, this time honestly.

"No, you are not. Did he not tell you? You are not going to die on us," she replied with a smile.

It was an innocent statement and, while technically true, she would not realize the seriousness of the mistake until too late. He would not die.

He was surprised.

She then stood on the tip of her toes and kissed him.

11 February 2009

More political rants, and...

Échecs is an Amarrian game of strategy. It is played on a square board divided in 64 tiles, where two opposing but equal armies fight.
The Amarr call it Chess.

I have dropped by the Daredevil'ls Lounge a few times since that discussion, and I have met that Amarrian militia commander twice again.

The first time was so very brief - she was walking in as I was walking out, on my way to a study all-nighter. Somehow she managed to convey an entire evening of nasty in a couple of sentences, it is amazing how she can turn the slightest word back on you as a blunt weapon.

Wanting to part on a different tone, I turned around and, ah, challenged her to this game which I learned in high-school when I was living in the Empire -I will tell you about that some other day. Our little game started with:

White: Pawn to fourth Queen's

She just looked at me, surprised. I thought it would be nice gesture? I mean, she should feel right at home, non? Chess is an Amarrian game. It has Bishops.

The next time we met, she had an unexpected answer to my gambit:

Black refuses to play chess. It is a game for her true Amarrian betters.

Apparently, being Khanid, she is either not supposed or not allowed to play. (Clever move by the way, had she not she clarified which betters, I would have had a field day, right there.) What does race have to do with what you are allowed to play, and with whom?

White suggests that, if Black is not allowed, naturally she should try the game in secret.

Haha! Okay, I must admit I sort of intentionally over-do the Gallentean airhead thing when she is around and I know, I know, this probably strengthens whatever stereotype she has of us. It also drives her nuts. Sorry girls, but you should really see the faces she makes! I am térrible...

Black so chastises White for her lack of proper manners :)

I think that what she was actually trying to say was actually "We are all slaves. We know our place, and so should you." Whichever way you take it, it is nothing but sad. Talk about reinforcing stereotypes.

White orders a drink and so does Black.

It was a draw.

Nonetheless the the evening went on, others joined and we all discussed other stuff including checkers -which she can play,- racing and wine, while enjoying some nice drinks at the bar. The point was, you can actually have a conversation with an Amarrian, in spite of all the differences.

I think I even got some cheer out of her as I left.


On a different note, Jude was at the bar and offered to walk me out to the flight deck. Again. I do not know what is wrong with him, but I think we may have just airlocked a relationship. Not that there was much of one anyway. Oh, well... No regrets.

08 February 2009

Racing Blind

October 109, Season 4, ISGC race 2
Mehatoor gate, Raa system

"They are in local!"

They piled on the window. The gate crew at the constellation border had been hoping for this all day. No matter how good the ISGC holo feed was, nothing beat the view out the window, that simple fact that they were there looking at the ships playing tag among the stars and not a computer-generated image floating in your living room or your office. You never knew in advance, you could only hope the race would come your way... but now it was a fact: they had track-side seats.

"Guys he is on scan, he is on scaaan! 14 AU and closing... wow, that was fast!" The scan operator ran towards the rest of the group gathering at the observation ports. The windows had barely enough space for everyone.

Outside, a Malediction-class interceptor slowed down from warp as its AI silently negotiated with the tower, retracted its camera drone and jumped through the gate.

Takashi Kurosawa was in the lead.

On board the Poison Apple

It had been a good race so far, my best since switching to the interceptor class. Tak was still in local, which meant he had 40 seconds lead or less on me. I had seen Else warp off just some... 5 seconds ahead of me? I could close that. Maybe not. Second or third place, huh? Not too bad.

Plus, I was going to beat the champion. Kay was nowhere near us. Yet.

ISGC holo feed

"And here he comes, we have a live feed on the far side, the gate in Mehatoor, and we can see Kurosawa warping off to the last waypoint of this race. I must say, Doug, this looks to be a great start of the season for the Venture Racing Team!"

"Yes, Bob, he is not only doing very well himself, but they have managed to recruit top pilots too. Remember Elsebeth Rhiannon was one of the original veterans back in Season 1. And speaking of her, we have some gating information coming in..." Twenty seconds after the lead racer had left, the gate flashed twice jumping an Ares and then a Malediction through.

The Ares aligned to the star, then floated motionless in space.

"Can you explain to our viewers, Doug, what is happening to Rhiannon's ship, is she having technical difficulties?"

"She is not having trouble, Bob, she is actually waiting for team captain Kurosawa to approach and tag the waypoint; she will then lock onto his beacon and warp directly on top, saving approach time. This is the 'warp train' maneuver and, by the looks of it, VRT has made good use of it this race."

As if on cue the Ares racer came to life and warped off; the holo focused on the Malediction drifting in space.

"Doug, we see now Catherine Delorois, last season's frigates champion, in a close fight with Rhiannon for second place today. What is she doing now? Is she too waiting for a beacon?"

"Bob, I believe she is in trouble..."

On board the Poison Apple

My heart sank as I tried the map again, then the cam with no luck. I still had my overview but the rest or the view was noise.

Waypoint fifteen was at a star, so I had switched to solar system view right before gating. The idea was, it would save me a couple of seconds on the far side as I warped directly on the map, instead of having to look for the star using the camera. You have no idea how wasteful it is to look for a star with the cam and I so wanted that second place.

Yet, using the cam instead of the map was exactly what I should have done.

Somehow, on the far side the solar system map was dead, the drone cam was dead, the map was dead, everything but the overview. I could move and approach and warp anywhere... Anywhere but the star. My racing overview does not have stars on it.

"Searaph I'm blind, guide me!"

He sounded surprised on comms "Say again, Quin?"

"I can't see the star, I can't warp to it!" I answered in frustration.

"Look for the big bright thing in the middle."

Ha, ha. Funny. "I can't see, something is broken, everything is broken! How far out are you?"

"Right behind you Quin, on my way."

ISGC holo feed

"See, Rhiannon was waiting for the VRT point man to tag the waypoint. Delorois is Scuderia Caille's point right now so she has no one to lock onto. We cannot say what kind of trouble she is experiencing, but a spike in comms for the Caille team suggest it is, in fact, a technical issue."

"Doug, we cut to a live feed from the finish line, where Kurosawa is about to dock."

Raa gate, Mehatoor system

The wounded Malediction tumbled, slowly.

The control tower crowd hollered. A fan with a green Caille tree hat screamed "You go, Go, GO, show them! Allez Caille!" It was agony. At least the guys on the other side had seen a good show and a chase; on this side they were witnessing a wreck floating in space.

The gate flashed twice again. A Claw decloaked, aligned and warped in the direction of the Star, followed closely by a blue-gold-red Dragonstar Ares. Some fans started to quietly move away from their vantage window spots, shaking their heads.

ISGC holo feed

"And that was Kayleigh Jamieson of Dragonstar Racing Team, just overtaking Delorois who is now in the fourth, no, fifth place. I cannot believe this! I repeat, the reigning interceptors champion, Jamieson, has recovered to overtake Delorois and is now going after Searaph for the last waypoint! I wonder what is wrong with Caille?"

"Bob, we may at this point say that she is having major technical issues. It is not normal, nor safe for a racer to stay at a gate for so long, close to low security space. Clearly the Scuderia captain has had a major breakdown."

"I will remind our viewers that Catherine Delorois, piloting ship number 17 on your holo, has recently switched from racing frigates to interceptors. This is her third interceptor race, and likely the third race in a row that she fails to achieve podium. Doug, do you think she is out of her depth? Was it a mistake for her to switch to the interceptor class?"

"It is way too early in the season to say and this is definitely going to hurt her scores, but let's give her the benefit of doubt. Racing interceptors is not the same thing as racing frigates and many pilots learn this the hard way. And I have to say, this looks like one painful lesson."

"Do you think she has any chance to recover that third place?"

"No, not at this point. She will be lucky if she is able to finish at all..."

On board the Poison Apple

"Searaph at waypoint in five," he said, "Kay is here."

"Whatever, warping now," I said, "let's hope you are at the can." Okay, being beaten by the champion was one thing, but I could not let the rest of them do that too. It would be too much for a race that good. That had been that good... Floating inside my pod, I crossed my fingers.

Warp, warp warp warp. Warped.

I landed right on top of the waypoint can. Approach, open, password, orbit and wait. While I waited, the comms confirmed that both Tak and Else were docked. So quick? Oh, finish station must have been in that very system.

My overview blinked as both Kay and Searaph warped off. Her, then Searaph. You go girl, good for you. Bummer for my team. Searaph would have beaten her if not for my glitch but, as it were, she was beating the crap out of both of us.

Mehatoor I - Ministry of Internal Order Logistic Support

The after-race cocktail was livelier than ever, everyone chattering was still riding that adrenaline high, gesturing with their hands high in the air and laughing. It had been a very close finish, upsets occurring from start to finish and podium had not been decided until the last moment. Indeed, we lost third place to Dragonstar by a mere three seconds. Venture beat us by a full two minutes. One of those minutes was my fault.

Caille techs would confirm later that my camera drone hit the CONCORD billboard as it was called back early, starting some sort of failure cascade within my pod. CONCORD would bill us for billboard damage. Two plus two... Never call solar system map right before the gate.

But right then, the race was just over and we had beaten half a field of pros. We were doing well but it could have been better. It would be better. Pushing the race aside in my mind -it was time to enjoy the evening- I got ready. People wanted to meet the face of the newbie team, some wanted to rub salt on the wound and one, one probably wanted to hit on me. Before anything else, I looked across the room to find my friend and adversary's gaze, raised my glass of Auvergne and smiled warmly.

Good race, Kay. But I am totally going to get you, sometime...

ISGC holo feed

"This is Doug Chevalier."

"And this is Robert Bouchard, signing off. Don't miss the race report this week, and see you all next race for the Industrial exhibition event!"

06 February 2009

All your base are belong to no one

By now, everyone has heard the news.

BOB, the meanest alliance in the cluster, has been dealt a mortal blow by Goonswarm, the biggest alliance in known space. No, not mortal. Huge, but not mortal.

Thousands of pilots are involved. Corporate theft, espionage, sabotage, backstabbing, all-out fighting. Evacuations to safety, defections, brave last stands, a desperate rush in defence of an empire just fallen. Barbarians at the gates. A chance of rebirth. Enemies gathering to move in and conquer -will they spread too thin? Allies in panic. Scavengers move in like vultures to pick on remains that belong to no one. Things will be theirs... or maybe no one's. Scorched space.

It's war. What's going to happen?

It is up to them, the pilots. It's about the people, not the spaceships.

((The more I think of it, the more it looks like a player-driven game expansion.))

Go with the flow.


Now, go play ;)

05 February 2009

One month blogging

So I am still here, one month after starting to blog.

So far, loads of fun, and many interesting people around. This being my first blog also, so I have been learning stuff. I have found that my original fears of not having anything to write about were unfounded... if anything, I think I am posting a bit too much, a bit too fast. I need to slow down.

Then again... slow down?

I am happy I have eight followers already, it is cool to see people finding this little blog of mine interesting enough to look at. Can you guys make anything out of my babbling? I promise to get the caffeine squirrel thing under control.

I am making friends in the blogo-sphere. We chat here and there, exchange blog comments, and I get to stick my foot in my mouth once in a while. Sorry about that.

It's also a good thing that I am setting my ideas in order. See, I usually have several movies playing in my mind at the same time, some of them in EVE, and have never had a good outlet to set them free. Lagged in Odotte was a favorite idea I never wrote until now (based on a real life drama), as are the Ken Clone stories (what happens when a clone goes wrong? These will be especially fun to those who know Ken -for those who don't, Ken was actually biomassed- and actually I discussed the idea with him some time ago. Keep watching, part 4 brings the goodies). I am a sucker for clones.

Some of the stuff I am posting is older and originally posted elsewhere (Wildcards, Shipswitch). I will eventually run out of these but I think these belong here as well, to explain background, and just in case some forums go down.

Hmmm, I think I am posting too much fiction, and it's all over the place. I need to do something about that. More 'now,' less 'then' or 'what if.'

New month resolutions:
  • Pace myself. Higher quality, lower volume.
  • Save the best for later.
  • Damit. I need to play, and roleplay more.
  • No more caffeine for the squirrel.
Anyhow, I think I will stay, so any advice for improvement would be totally welcome, and rewarded with undying gratitude.

Cheers! -Q

04 February 2009

I, Clone: Part 2

Part 1: Welcome Back
Part 2: The Goodness of Our Heart

Kendar Zek died in April 110. He had been diagnosed with a degenerative disease, and there was nothing that could have been done. No treatment, no med clones, no Intaki rebirth would bring him back. Because he had been a gentle and orderly man, he died as he had lived: he said goodbye to his dearest friends, distributed his considerable wealth and finished his business. He was grateful that death had announced herself in advance, for he would leave a legacy worth keeping alive. Death would be forever this time. Or so he had been told...

And one good night, he passed away in his sleep.

"Please sign here, here and here," said Coat, pointing at forms on the tray. He knew already that his name was Kraak but to Kendar, somehow, he would always be the Coat.

Kendar read the forms, smirked and tried to sign. He tried once. He tried again. After a few more tries he gave up saying "I can't, I do not remember how to sign my name." It was a week after he had woken up in the clone vat and he still had trouble remembering some things. He read the forms again:

I, Kendar Zek, am awake and self-aware.

Coat clarified, "do not worry, this is just a formality. We just need your gesture, the statement is just a legal requirement as you are not expected to posses all your faculties yet. Keep in mind what matters, we have your DNA print and it matches the one in our contracts. We will look after you."

"Why is it that I do not remember?"

The doctor -had he rolled his eyes just there for a second- explained yet another time. "Your situation is special. We went through great lengths to bring you back. We are very proud of it, mind you... medically speaking, you were not supposed to be alive."

A memory stirred within Kendar. "Wait... I was sick, wasn't I? There was no coming back..."

"But you are back. We had a contract with you, and we are on track to meet our obligations." Coat was beginning to sound enthusiastic. "Never give up on technological advance, I say."


"There is a disaster recovery contract to your name."

Coat explained how it was not a regular clone operation. The contract had been triggered the day Kendar's death was announced in the news; how agents had scoured the cluster for material, information and memories. They had found four discarded medclones, assorted biomass, news clippings and -bingo- corrupted snippets of pod emergency comms. A new body had been grown, partial memories recovered, a neural image prepared and uploaded.

Unfortunately, the best material had been three years old and synthesized memories had to fill the gaps in an image full of holes. As a result, the clone would not quite hold all of its former memories, something that was all too familiar to careless capsuleers.

"You are in an imperfect vessel, if you will, so you will find trouble keeping up," Coat had warned.

Therapy would help him recover to a comfortable level and, for the rest, study would have to do.

It made sense.

Coat was clearly enjoying himself with the story by now, a glimmer in his eye telling on him. "We have brought you back to life, we have provided you with learning implants, we have prepared dossiers for you to study your own life and help you remember. Basic quarters and sustenance have been arranged."

Ken felt fortunate. Fortunate indeed that his old self had been so cautious, fortunate to be in such capable hands, fortunate to be alive. "Gee," Ken said, "thank you so very much." So fortunate, that he wondered what the catch would be. He teased Coat with a bit of sarcasm, "I wonder if I will ever be able to repay you."

"There will be enough time to worry about the issue of payment. As you claim back your life we are confident this will be taken care of, so do not worry. Our first priority is helping you get better."

Kendar's eyes opened wide. Resurrection without guarantee of payment? What if he did not pay? What if he did not want to come back to begin with? Well, he did, but he wondered if he could use that in court. Ken smelled money.

Coat saw the question in his mind, smiled wryly and warned, "We did not do this out of the goodness of our heart, Mr. Zek. We have a contract. With you. As a business opportunity this is worth almost half a billion to us, an amount that you can easily afford as you once told me yourself. You made your down payment years ago so we are confident that when, not if, you recover your life and your assets, we will all be satisfied."

"So I owe you money?"

"You owe us your life. What is money in this case?"

Good question. How much? Better question.

02 February 2009


UC Odotte
August 109. Season 3, less than an hour before ISGC race 10.

So I dropped by the hangar where everything was ready for the ISGC race, as usual, but the lights were off. Unusual. "Lights on!" I called, expecting to see my shiny golden arrowhead of a frigate. And on they went...


She's GREEN?! And slimey green at that? What the flap? Someone's idea of a joke, to paint my ship before the race? The final race of a perfect season?

And where was the wall? You know, the front right armor, the part left exposed to the hallway so anyone at UC could walk up and write a message? "Beat an inty, undying respect," "Speed Fairy!" "Good girls go to Lumi, bad girls go to 0.0, have fun!" But the wall was shiny, polished and smooth... My messages were gone.


The lights on the perch went on and his voice came through the system "ah, Quin... look closer s'il vous plaît." There were actually several people up there, giggling and pointing. Well, here is your close look, you fat Mannar joker, before I climb and push you out that window.

"Mirror mirror," I said, "systems check." The answer came back in contralto instead of baritone. -Aura? Why hello, it has been a long time - do not get too comfy, I will have you erased again in no time- No modules. No rigs. She was as good as packaged.

She is... not... my ship?

Breathed in. -Relax- She actually looked different, here and there. Fins and thrusters and circuitry. Sort of evil and menacing. Then I spotted this little green triangle and some words. "Khanid Innovation." She was an interceptor.

"What...?" The room erupted with laugther. "SURPRISE!!!"

"Quin, meet ze Tsiap-tsiap, a Malediction class interceptor. Wiz ze compliments and ze personal note from Monsieur Asabona himself."


"Ganortchar Asabona, ze CEO of Khanid Innovation, zinks UC racing a Malediction hull would be 'mutually beneficial,' seeing how you have done such a good job on ze Executioner..."

"Oh. Cool..." A crazy plan was spinning in my head. Fifty minutes to race start and I was 20 jumps away. -Please Quin, do not do anything stupid- "And, say, how long would it take you to fit her?" -Stupid, stupid... you are about to finish a perfect frigate season, unbeaten, and want to risk flying an interceptor? Ah, but would it not be even more perfect if, by any chance, I actually win this one?

"We have your modules and can improvise rigs, mais not your favourites exactly... Look, we just wanted to show you zis but did not intend to..."

Here is to doing stupid things for fun. "Naah, go for it! And while you guys are doing that, blank that ugly name and get me some red colouring. This should be fun..."

On the news the following day...

Quintrala, individual frigate champion and perky Gallentean redhead, startled the audience when she emerged in an ominous green Malediction.

Me and my Poison Apple came in 5th place. Every possible mistake to make, I made. She was way too fast. I mis-warped. She would not handle waypoint approaches as gracefully as A Wing and a Prayer. I missed my frigate. That interceptor handled like a brick. -Together, we suck!

But we can smooth out the rough edges. She will be fast and nimble, I will learn to cope with the speed. We have time ahead. An entire new racing season, in a different class.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship... ;)

Racing Series
See what happened next