The Killings at Kurniainen

It was inevitable. I knew it was coming, some day. I just didn’t think some day would be today.

Signal Cartel Fleet School (SCFS) has been flying Sleeper Eradication fleets regularly for some time now, and all in all things have gone very smoothly. Our skills – and our confidence – have grown, which is exactly what SCFS is supposed to do. When we undocked from Zoo I don’t think any of us expected this op to end the way they did.

Things started off routinely enough. We had a C5 wolf rayet with heavy sleeper activity, ripe for eradication. Our j-space entrance was Haras, in The Bleak Lands, 18 jumps from Zoo. It was a long way to travel, but my intel indicated that the C5 was worth it. So we headed to Haras on the shortest route possible.

There was some traffic with us early on – a Stratios here, a Corvus there – but we pushed ahead. When we crossed the border into Metropolis at 20:30, things intensified. D-scan in Avenod showed combat probes, and Captain Davis from No Handlebars Alliance was spotted in a Vedmak. I jumped the fleet from Avenod to Aset and ahead into Isbrabata. This proved to be the beginning of the end.

We were chased through Isbrabata, and I made the decision to push forward into Kurniainen. I’m sure more than a handful of pilots will question whether that was the right decision, but it’s the decision I made. I jumped the fleet through the Isbrabata gate into Kurniainen.

We were met on the other side of the gate by a group of at least seventeen pirates: one Deimos, one Devoter, two Guardians, one Harpy, one Imperial Navy Slicer, one Ishkur, one Legion, one Malediction, one Pacifier, three Retributions, two Vedmaks, one Vengeance, and one Wolf. There were more in-system – I received a report of a smartbomb Proteus safed up near the sun – but I don’t know how many more, and honestly that’s probably for the better.

I don’t know which pirate fired the first shot, and I don’t remember who in the fleet suffered the first hit. I can only confirm that as soon as we jumped into Kurniainen at 20:32, we were engaged in what was for many of us, myself included, our first real PvP encounter.

You can spend days reading and studying, but it doesn’t prepare you for the real thing. I was grateful for the experience of Command0, and turned target calling over to him. Deimos was called as primary, and we started fighting back.

A few of us sustained some pretty heavy damage right away. The Logi cap chain went down, my Guardian pilots were locked, and there was nothing I could do. Quinn was the first casualty at 20:34, followed by Leda at 20:35. Command0 sustained heavy fire, and his Eos succumbed at 20:36.

I assumed the role of target calling. Drones were out, missiles were flying, and all weapons were being fired. My nosferatu and neuts were on, and Auds came on-grid in his scouting ship to try and assist with damps. None of it made a dent in the pirate gang. We continued to take heavy fire and I lost Chaim, Daniel and Sanctus – all in Harbingers – at 20:36, 20:37, and 20:38, respectively.

Two minutes later, my Damnation exploded around me and my pod was ejected. It was her second flight (she still had that ‘new ship smell’), but she Died with Glory™. I stayed on-grid in my pod and continued on.

Alerei’s 1.9bil experimental Proteus fit was the next to go down, followed by Snyypa’s Gnosis and Aleksander’s BNI. Ren-Song’s Guardian finally couldn’t take any more damage, and she exploded at 20:42, followed by Calder’s BNI.

While all this was happening, Fonsui had the wherewithal to scout some safes for the fleet. At 20:43 I gave the order to warp out and safe up. My pod was scrammed and I was down to about 25% hull, but somehow managed to get out and make it to the safe.

We re-grouped at the safe, did a quick damage assessment, and planned a route back to Zoo. I was still under a timer and my mapping was off, so Chaim stepped up as navigator. He found us a route through Sinq Laison, and I led what remained of the fleet home to Zoo.

This fleet ended in an (almost) TPK. But as I sit here in the pilot’s lounge on Level Sixteen, scratching notes on my datapad, you’d never know anything out of the ordinary had happened. The corridors are filled with friendly chatter, pilots are repairing or replacing their ships, and more than a few people are joking about how ‘shiny’ their new clones feel. It’s just a regular day in Signal Cartel.

As I sipped my Caf, I composed and sent the following message to my fleet:

Things did not go as planned today. We did not come home with Sleeper loot, many of us came home without our ships, and some of us woke up in a clone bay. Our zkillboard is bathed in blood, and we had some pretty significant losses. But it was a good day.

We can spend time second-guessing our actions, being salty or sad, or we can be proud that we fought back. This was my first real PvP experience, as it was for many of us. The fleet did not give up – we fought back for as long as we could. We did not roll over and give up, and I am proud of the fact that we engaged.

We did not win this fight, but the fleet can hold its head high, knowing that we did the best we could. There will surely be more fights, and surely more losses. But I know that we will all continue to do the best we can do, supporting each other along the way, because that is who we are. We are Signaleers.

o7

How Coasters became Content in EvE

It was sometime in late February 2018 when I sat in my office at work and got annoyed by the coffee circles on my desk and on papers scattered there. I started to search the web for coasters but could not find any which satisfied my special needs and suddenly I got an idea.

I wanted coasters with the Signal Cartel Alliance logo on it.

So I started another search to see how I could get custom coasters printed. There were not so many hits when I narrowed the search down to custom shaped coasters, but I finally found a print shop which offered them made out of mousepad material at a reasonable rate. In the next few days I asked Mynxee about the copyright situation of our logo, and a friend of mine helped me to meet the requirements of the print shop since I am really bad with Photoshop stuff and the requirement was to have a 1pt pink line along the cutting border.

After a few days I had everything in place and had to decide about the number of coasters to order. The costs were roughly 10€ for a professional checking my image for problems (which was really necessary because I needed three tries to get it right), 10€ for cleaning the machine after printing, and 0.7€ for each coaster. With the basic costs in mind, I decided to order 50 pieces so the price for a single one was in a reasonable range.

Now came the next thing – what would I do with 50 coasters where I needed just a few myself? A Signal Cartel event where these coasters could be handed out to my fellow corpmates!

I thought about what kind of event I would like to see myself and maybe even something different as well. Since we are Signal Cartel and do things differently, I thought about creating a group event where nobody can really win but everybody can participate, like our ESRC and SAR division. Since we already have some ESRC competitions and events, I focused on SAR and came up with the idea of an orchestrated rescue of somebody. Later it turned out that this somebody was me, and I would be kind of locked out of my own story most of the time – haha!

I reached out to Thrice Hapus since my favorite Signal Cartel video is the one about our ESRC division. (It’s so exciting to hear „Base, this is Thrice checking in…“) I only asked who did all the sound and video bits and pieces and wondered if I could get some help from that end. But as soon as I told Thrice about the idea, he explained that the one year anniversary of ESRC was about to come up in March and he was looking for an event to be held at that time. We pulled A Dead Parrot into the story a few days after first contact, and from then on, we chatted daily on Discord, had a few voice calls, and started to work out the story together.

So that’s how content gets created in EvE!

Rescue in J101129: Everyday Hero

A request for help came across the EvE-Scout channel. The stranded pilot (who has asked to remain anonymous) knew the HS/C1 chain to his wormhole. The problem was that the only hole he had bookmarked was the C1/C4 and it would only allow medium-sized ships through it. The only other hole out was a large one to a C3, but its mass was critically destabilized and he had two large ships that needed an exit. He had a way to refit but had no probes or launcher currently fitted and the system did not contain a rescue cache.

Using the known HS/C1 connection, Expert Rescue Pilot Luci Mari-Ni was able to easily locate and enter the stranded pilot’s system. But she was concerned the stranded pilot would be stuck even worse if she went through the destabilized wormhole and collapsed it. The Search and Rescue effort would be considerably more challenging if that occurred.

At the stranded pilot’s request, they rolled the dice, and Luci went through into the C3. The stranded pilot brought one of his large ships through then went back to retrieve the second. It was a tense moment as Luci waited for him to re-emerge from the wormhole before it collapsed. And then the second ship appeared. Hooray!

In the C3 system, there was a rescue cache, from which Luci was able to retrieve a probe launcher and scanner probes. She jettisoned a can with with these items into space for the stranded pilot to pick up. As he did so, she scanned down the system’s LS exit and began scouting in it to see if would be safe. But the stranded pilot soon waved her off; now that he had probes and a launcher, he was no longer stranded and able to scan his own way out to known space. Mission accomplished!

When I learned of the events the next day, I reached out to the rescued pilot for feedback on how the rescue went, as we do on all rescues. Many times we hear nothing back, but this pilot went out of his way to send the following note:

Luci Mari-Ni did not just help, but went above and beyond what I was expecting them to. Great person, great pilot, and helped me out greatly. I can’t begin to thank them enough. Through their service I even donated to your guy’s cause, which is an odd thing for me to do.

To start, I want to say I was skeptical of calling on you folk to help. In a game where trust is rare because anyone can be willing and ready to stab you in the back for the lolz, you hold true to honor and integrity. I heard good things about you, but figured it was old tales of a group that used to help others out and now just uses people to cleverly hunt others. I was wrong. Not only was I helped with saving my two rattles, but the pilot who helped went beyond what they needed to do to make sure I got out safe. They even offered to scout me through LS to HS, but I declined, for their job was done and it was time for me to own up to any potential mistakes that may or may not happen. This one pilot’s actions has now convinced me to not engage knowingly with Signal Cartel. Which is saying something, since everyone is a target or future target.

This is just a day in the life of a Signal Cartel Rescue Pilot. Every rescue is different, and every rescue matters. We have rescue caches in approximately 60% of wormholes, waiting to assist you should you need a launcher and scanner probes. If that won’t help you, we have pilots in space, 24/7 in every time zone, ready to assist you should you become stranded in a wormhole.

Sound like something you’d like to be a part of? Then consider joining with Luci Mari-Ni and our scores of other Rescue Pilots. Start your rescue adventure today!

Happy Third Birthday, Signal Cartel!

Signal Cartel turns three years old in a few days. To my delight and amazement, we are not just surviving but thriving despite playing EVE in a very different way from most everyone else.

A Brief History. Johnny Splunk and G8keeper, who co-founded the EvE-Scout corp when Thera was introduced to the game, approached me about serving as CEO for an exploration corp based on the principles of peaceful exploration and what is now our Credo. Looking for something different to do in New Eden and knowing them from having worked as a Thera scout for a short time, I said yes. After a lot of intense preliminary work to get our ducks in a row, Signal Cartel was founded on 2015.01.20 and officially open for business on 2015.01.31. Our alliance, EvE-Scout Enclave, was formed on 2015.01.23 to house the two corps and our logistics corp, EvE-Scout Logistics. In the interest of administrative simplicity, we are a closed alliance which does not accept other corps.

This past weekend, we enjoyed our Third Birthday Fleet, planned and FC’d by the remarkable Johnny Splunk (watch his Twitch channel for exploration adventures, quirky humor, and a great community) on his well known alt Carrie Frog. About 50 of us formed up in Thera, then departed in our signature swarm of Griffins, fitted with hugs (festival launchers and fireworks/snowballs) and ECM (for self defense). Destination: Lanngisi, with the FC expertly guiding our new players about fleet protocols and mechanics along the way.

Photo by Lucas Ballard

Of course, we announced ourselves and our birthday messages in Local at every jump, and when we could, “hugged” folks on the gate with our fireworks and snowballs. I was kept busy during the entire fleet doing random draws of fleet member names to give away many excellent items donated by our members. Among the items were Asteros, implants, Geckos, ISK, Stratioses, Spectral Shift and other SKINs, exploration modules, a fitted Tengu, and even a fully fitted Chimera!!!

Once in Lanngisi, we were instructed to entosis the new Project Discovery monument there. This yielded various items and our FC assisted folks as they puzzled out what the information we gleaned from these items could mean. (Some of us already knew what this was about, but no spoilers ruined it for those who didn’t.)

Photo by Lucas Ballard

Eventually the puzzle revealed our next destination. Being in low sec and requiring a route of several low sec systems, scouts were deployed and travel was much more tightly managed by our FC to ensure that everyone arrived safely. As  often happens to our fleets, it appeared we were being tailed by someone, presumably to inform a gate camp further along our route. We did encounter a few gate camps, but our FC provided calm guidance to our nervous newer players. We arrived at our destination relatively intact (I think we lost one or two people to campers but those folks soon reshipped and caught back up with us).

Upon our arrival, the FC warped us to a landmark and directed us to entosis the structure there. As we landed on grid, we were delighted to see an Astrahus bearing our alliance logo, which factored into a strategy for entosising relatively safely in this low sec system. Those who could not entosis spent the time regaling us with fireworks and snowballs,  checking out our Astrahus, and taking pictures.

Photo by Razorien

But our FC had something even more exciting planned. When our entosising tasks were done, he hinted at next steps in solving the puzzle we were working on. Then everyone’s attention was directed to our freeported Astrahus, where Johnny Splunk himself undocked in an Erebus, a Titan class ship. There was shock and awe on comms, especially among our many new players who’d never seen such a thing in game before. The Erebus had been donated by our long-time member Dinic, who amazingly revealed later that he had earned the entire cost of the ship from exploration activities! Such beautiful synergy!

Photo by Aamish MacTavish

Our FC informed us we would be bridged to another system, then explained how bridging works and instructed everyone in what to do when the bridge went up. The bridging went fairly smoothly, with most of the fleet getting through on the first go. One or two people had glitches but finally made it through subsequent bridges. Once we were all in the destination system — at yet another EvE-Scout Enclave Astrahus! — our FC provided more hints and guidance for solving the next step in the puzzle. At that point the fleet had been going for about three hours so it was decided to call it and leave everyone to finish up the rest of the puzzle on their own. If they manage to do so, they will be have everything they need to build their own Neural Lace ‘Blackglass’ Net Intrusion 920-40 implant (spoiler alert; don’t click the link if you want to solve the puzzle for yourself!), which offers substantial buffs when used in conjunction with a ‘Zeugma’ Integrated Analyzer.

We celebrated with a mass display of hugs on the Astrahus, while several of us shared on comms their feelings about the day’s fleet experience and their experience in Signal Cartel. For myself and Johnny as leaders of Signal Cartel, these comments were so heart-warming. It is extremely fulfilling to make an idea real in EVE and to grow a community of like-minded pilots who have both a sustaining mission and a cultural focus. As I tell my members, though: we are all torchbearers for the Signal Cartel way of life. Our light is burning brighter than ever and I am humbled and honored every day by the good work and solidarity of our dedicated pilots. So, to them I say thank you and here’s to another three years!

Enjoy more fabulous fleet pictures captured by Aamish MacTavish,  Lucas Ballard, Razorien, and Tamayo.

 

 

The Short Life and Triumphant Death of Rescue Cache J154733

Author: Lucas Ballard

YC109-Dec-15 was a remarkable day for one Small Secure Container floating in Anoikis, illustrating in just a few short hours the full lifespan of a Eve Scout Rescue Cache that was very well used.

Rescue Cache J154733 started its life being anchored by Signal Cartel pilot Rover Dog.  Just a box floating out in the black of Anoikis, waiting to be opened.

A few hours later a call came into the EvE-Scout Public channel from a pilot named <redacted> who had apparently become stranded within the system.  Signaleer and regular corporate fixture pris Naari played the role of Agent and assisted <redacted> in finding the Rescue Cache and availing himself of the equipment stored within.  <redacted> soon found his way out of Anoikis and out of danger, having used 5 Core Scanner Probes out of the 8 that had been placed there by Rover Dog.

Lucas Ballard came online from the captain’s lounge aboard Rescue Five, his brand new Enforcer Force Recon Cruiser, having received word of <redacted> predicament a short time earlier.  However he soon learned of pris Naari’s handling of the situation moments before.  So he made preparations for a long roam through the ever-changing paths through Anoikis, to begin searching for other pilots who were waiting for their chance to escape their own J-Space prisons.

Not 10 minutes later, a pilot by the name of <redacted2> reached out on the Public channel, looking for assistance.  He had become stranded in Anoikis while piloting his brand new (and freakishly expensive) Caiman, a Guristas Dreadnought.  Lucas stepped in to help, and learned that the pilot was stranded in J154733, the very system that <redacted> had just escaped from less than one hour before.  Lucas directed him to the Rescue Cache, and 15 minutes later, <redacted2> sent a terse message simply stating that he had gotten out of Anoikis.

Less than 15 minutes after that, <redacted> reached out again in the EvE-Scout Public Channel.  Grateful for the assistance he had received an hour earlier, he had decided to fly back into J154733 to return the Core Scanner Probes he had borrowed.  But upon arriving at the location of the Cache, he discovered that it was no longer there.  Someone had destroyed the container!  So Lucas sent a secure message to <redacted2>, to get more information about just what had happened, and 2 hours later, <redacted2> responded.  Shortly after getting the probes from the Rescue Cache, it turned out that he had been jumped by a Sabre pilot who tried to keep him from getting away.  However quick reflexes and some savvy flying kept <redacted2> from being pinned down by the Interdictor, and he managed to escape.  In their frustration over missing such a valuable target, the Sabre pilot and/or his friends apparently destroyed the Rescue Cache.

Thus ended the short life of Rescue Cache J154733.  But what a life it had!  The little box was a light in the darkness for not one but TWO pilots, before being destroyed less than 12 hours after having been anchored.  A short but triumphant existence to be sure.

That Small Secure Container manifested the Eve Scout Rescue motto perfectly:  Hope Comes In A Box.