I Am a Thera Scanner

Editor’s Note: This week we’re featuring a blog post by our very own Vladimir Korff, an in character story about learning the ropes of becoming a Thera Scout. You can visit his blog at Encapsulated Space.

REGION G-R00031 – CONSTELLATION G-C00324
THERA SYSTEM

Vladimir Korff

3 January YC 123

“Okay, we are finally in Thera,” said Aura. “What’s next?”

I knit my brow, “I am trying to remember Maxwell Kurvora’s lecture where he explained how to record Thera signatures.”

Aura giggled, “Is it the one where he also called your blog boring?”

She referred to an episode where Maxwell was demonstrating various software tools in his browser and said something like “Here you can see my boring bookmarks.” One of the bookmarks was named “Vlad’s Blog”.

“Oh, come on,” protested I, “he didn’t mean it. If anything, it was a kind of a self-deprecating joke.”

“I dunno, it sounded very much like a blog-deprecating criticism.”

I noticed a glint in Aura’s eye and cried, “Hey, stop teasing me! We have a job to do.”

“So what are you waiting for, Captain?” asked Aura, innocence incarnate.

I shook my fist at Aura, she stuck her tongue out at me. Having completed the exchange of pleasantries, I racked my brain.

“It’s a bit confusing. I remember that the main goal was to add a wormhole to the Tripwire and bookmark both ends in the shared corp folder, but most work had to be done in Mzsbi Haev’s Thera Scan tool. The problem is, I don’t remember how to use it.”

“Shall we watch Maxwell’s lecture again?” suggested Aura, with a suspicious sparkle in her eyes.

“No, it will take another hour. Let’s just open the tool and figure out how to work with it.”

And so we did. In fact, as soon as I saw the screen, it all came back to me, and the built-in step-by-step instruction plugged the gaps in my memory. The tool was super convenient – it was developed by a capsuleer, for capsuleers. I guess, Mzsbi spent many a boring hour typing signature IDs into Tripwire and the bookmark folder before he finally decided to introduce some automation. And now it all worked like a charm. Thera Scan tool was compatible with my neurointerface which it used to extract data from the probe scanner and Tripwire. After comparing the data from those two sources the tool produced a programme of work which consisted of collapsed wormhole removal and new signature scanning. After that, all I had to do was scan and bookmark the wormhole and manually enter three pieces of information: a type of the wormhole, a signature of its other end and the destination system. Everything else was just copy-pasting. It was a great tool!

Still, it took me a while to get a hang of it. While I was working on my first signature, I saw Azamex announce scanning the same one. That was not surprising as I published my own announcement 12 minutes earlier, before she joined the comms channel. I told Azamex that I was already working on that signature, she just shrugged and switched to scanning another one. While I was learning the ropes with my first wormhole, Azamex managed to scan and add three other signatures to the map! Moreover, when I was about to create a Tripwire record for my wormhole I found that she already added it but it didn’t have all the details. I filled in the missing data, invoked Submit command and held my breath… After a few seconds I reloaded the list, and voila – my first ever Thera wormhole appeared on our alliance server!

I was proud and excited and wanted to tell the whole world about it when I heard Aura’s angry voice.

“Hey! What’s that? Why does it show Azamex as the scanner?”

I looked at the screen and, indeed, the server indicated that the wormhole was scanned by Azamex.

“Hmm… I guess it’s because she created the record in Tripwire,” I said tentatively. “That’s where our server gets information from.”

“This must be fixed immediately! Contact the server administrators and ask them to correct the name.”

I laughed, “The server admin is no other than our Alliance Leader Johnny Splunk. I guess, he has more important work to do than manually correcting values in the database.”

“Then… then just delete and recreate that Tripwire record under your name!”

“Why would I spend my time on it?”

“Because it’s unfair! It was you who scanned that wormhole but now all the credit for it went to Azamex!” fumed Aura.

“Doesn’t matter,” shrugged I. “I know that it was I who did it.”

“But Tekufah doesn’t!” she blurted out.

I was wondering why Aura suddenly got so excited but finally the penny dropped. Tekufah was running an award program and gave a CovOps frigate to any Signaleer who scanned five Thera wormholes.

I looked Aura in the eye and asked, “Aura, honestly? All this outrage only because of a frigate?”

She blushed but stood her ground, “And why not? T2 frigates aren’t lying around.”

“Even if I don’t get credit for this one wormhole, I would have already scanned another one if I didn’t have to waste time on this pointless discussion.”

“No, you wouldn’t. It took you 18 minutes 22 seconds to finish this one and we’ve been talking for just 1 minute 18 seconds.”

“That’s because it was my first wormhole,” I pointed out. “I am sure I can scan another one much quicker.”

“Not as quick as recreating the Tripwire record,” grumbled Aura.

I ignored her remark and focused on the next signature. Indeed, my time improved to 12 minutes 25 seconds but it was still far from Azamex’s blazing performance – she was ticking off a new signature every 2-3 minutes. So by the time I finished my second wormhole, Azamex completed the rest of the unmapped signatures.

“Now what?” asked Aura testily.

“Now we just wait for new signatures to pop up on the radar.”

Aura ostentatiously switched herself off and I spent the next half an hour in peace, reading the corp forums. While I was thusly occupied, two more signatures appeared on the probe scanner and I eagerly set to mapping. This time round it took me only 8 minutes per wormhole. I didn’t have time to wait for new signatures so I called it a day and warped to a hi-sec connection bookmarked by a fellow Thera scanner.

“You see, with 8 minutes per signature, it will take us just 40 minutes to earn a new frigate,” said I trying to placate Aura who was still sulking.

“Sixty two minutes forty seven seconds,” were her last words before the wormhole sucked us in.

Signaleer Xavec

Editor’s Note: We got another another entry added in our Signaleer Series! It’s been a while since our last one, so I hope you enjoy. Xavec truly embraces our motto of “Be the content you wish to see”. In that spirit he has started and continues to operator two great in corp services. SCRAMS, Signal Cartel Relocation and Moving Service, is offered to new Signal Cartel members to help with relocation of their assets to one of our corp offices and SCRUBS is a BPC buyback Service for members. Huge shoutout to Xavec for stepping up! – Katia Sae

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

Xavec

The short answer to this is that my housemate, while I was studying at university, told me about this amazing game with a 2 week free trial. That was all the way back in 2009 before alpha was a thing! I remember being blown away by the concept and execution of the game, including the absolute total vastness of New Eden.

I remember doing some easy missions and a bit of High-Sec mining and being shockingly disappointed at how little isk I was making. I didn’t understand the game at all and didn’t understand skills properly. As an impoverished student I didn’t feel ready to commit to paying for the game. I trained some random mining skills and when my free trial was almost up I started to train leadership to V – I thought that the mining benefits would help me make more isk. Like I said, I didn’t understand skill. In those days all accounts could only have skills in the skill queue that started training in the next 24 hours.

Then one day 9 years later a colleague made a passing comment about Eve Online. I had completely forgotten about the game. He told me about Alpha accounts being free to play. Soon after that on a day off I downloaded the game again. I still had the same email address and managed to recover my account and found the same character sitting there with a number of skills trained. I’ve had one break since then of around a year when I got Zelda The Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch – this was the first time since then that I had the same mind-blowing experience. I soon came back to Eve though!

What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else? How would you describe your characters career path?

Imicus

Quite simple, really. I started out a bit lost and without purpose. I did a bit of mining and a few missions but found that the returns were pitiful and I really wasn’t enjoying it. I remember Googling income streams and reading that exploration was the easiest way to earn isk for a new player. I did a whole bunch of reading about wormholes and fitted up an Imicus. I scanned down a wormhole in my high-sec home and warped to it.

I remember feeling my heart rate go up as I splashed into a wormhole for the first time. I’d read that wormhole space was dangerous and was sure that I’d basically get shot within seconds. I didn’t; but neither did I find any faction relic or data sites on that first occasion. I loved exploration and this new potential for earning enough isk to fly cool ships as well as the adrenaline of entering lawless space from my safe High-Sec home meant that I’ve been an explorer ever since. 

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it?

I’m more driven to explore Anoikis than New Eden! But I also like to explore New Eden too. There are so many unique things to see! The planet Eyjafjallajökull in wormhole space, Choonka’s Shipwash, EVE gate, the statue of Katia Sae. The new Jita trade hub station is quite a sight too!

I can make isk as I go. My goal is simply to have fun and I’ve met this goal frequently! My time at the moment is divided between exploring wormhole space as a wormhole dweller and fleet flying with Signal Cartel and other PVE fleet groups.

Choonka’s diner “The Pit” (Image credit: Tamayo)

What attracted you to Signal Cartel? Any corp related experiences you’d like to share and/or any Credo related stories that would be of interest?

My first contact with Signal Cartel was seeing the Eve-Scout Rescue Caches in wormholes that I was exploring. I thought it was neat but hoped I’d never need it. Then one day I forgot to bookmark my exit and lost my probes. The pilot who helped me spent time explaining that you don’t lose all your skills if you die and that self-destructing was a much quicker option! I learnt from this mistake but also ended up in the Eve-Scout Public channel where there was information on joining the corp. I read up about the Eve-Scout Credo and then read the very thorough directory of important information that is sent to all new members. It’s a goldmine of useful information. I learnt very quickly about all the rookie mistakes I had been making. Plus everyone was so friendly! I have been a member ever since. If I hadn’t joined Signal cartel I probably would have left the game long ago. For me the Credo embodies my real-life values of helping others and not harming others. In real life I am a healthcare worker so this resonates with me.

I have so many Credo related stories! Hugs fleets are one of my favourite corp activities. We fit up frigates and destroyers with festival launchers, reps and tank, and go seeking out people to “Hug” with snowballs or fireworks. It makes pretty lights in space and often people don’t know what the heck is happening to them until they kill us and read the Killmail and see how we were fitted. Sometimes we paste some relevant memes into local chat for the fun of it.

On another occasion we invaded Brave space with a competition to see which squadron could make it there the quickest. The squadron I was leading won, getting from our home in Zoohen to the Brave home system in Nullsec in under 3 minutes. The second place made it in around half an hour. We then charged their Keepstar and hugged them. At one point I was receiving remote reps from one of them and missiles from another. I felt like they were toying with me before they eventually destroyed me, but at least I got all of my fireworks away!

I have recently taken on joint leadership of our Fleet-Operations Division so this is something I am definitely going to try to promote.

Some of you may have heard of Chappy’s Birthday Bash. A terminally ill capsuleer brought his dreadnought into a Lowsec system and thousands of others came to have a massive friendly brawl. I was in the Signal Cartel fleet and we were very happy just lobbing hugs at people like the weird kid at a birthday party throws Maltesers.

I have been allowed through gate-camps and wormholes, sent isk and o7, in chat on many occasions, purely for being in Signal Cartel. Through my work as a 911 operator, I have seen that so many people are so generous with their time and their isk! Far more people than I thought have been assisted out of wormholes by people who you would otherwise assume hostile. (Helped Out by Locals)

In Signal Cartel we often say that reputation tank is the best tank.

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? Why is it your favorite?

My stand-out favourite ship is the Astero. Someone recently joked that Signal Cartel that we probably keep the Astero market afloat. It’s such a versatile ship and it’s great for exploring. It can cloak, it has bonuses for hacking data and relic sites as well as scanning signatures. All bread and butter for an explorer. It’s also super agile and doesn’t require mad skills to fly and it’s easy to fit to align in under 2 seconds. Oh and it can use drones. The other thing is that nobody ever really knows what sort of heat an Astero is packing so they think twice before engaging it. Mine has got me out of many tight spots!

My fit is geared towards stealth and evasion. I work on the assumption that if I get target locked, I am dead. So my fit is all about quick align time, cloaking, and low signature radius. Anything that gives me that extra server tick to warp away to a safe.

Astero at the EVE Gate by Triffton Ambraelle

In my high slots I fit a Sisters Core Probe Launcher loaded with at least 16 but preferably 24 Sisters Core Scanner Probes and also a Covert Ops Cloaking Device. In the mids I put a Zeugma Integrated Analyzer which is great when paired with a Blackglass Implant. I often fit a Microwarp Drive and also an Afterburner so I can get out of bubbles quickly. My last slot usually has a Scan Rangefinding Array in it. I often swap out one of the prop mods for a Burst Jammer II to use as a last ditch attempt to warp off if I get scrammed. In the lows I fit a Damage Control II, enough Nanofibre Internal Structure modules to make my align time under 2 seconds and if I have anything left over something to augment my drones. The rigs are again usually dedicated to agility. In the drone bay I usually have a flight of T2 Light Drones and a flight of ECM Drones. In the cargo hold I keep a Mobile Depot (seriously, being a 911 operator has taught me NEVER to go into wormhole space without one) and supplies to create and replenish our wormhole rescue caches. In my implants I usually have a set of High-grade Halo implants to get my signature radius nice and low, plus the Blackglass.

All neutral ships are set to a nice bright colour on my overview. If a ship is warping in I usually have a good few seconds notice before they are able to fire on or scram me. I can usually cloak and warp away to a safe before they’ve even been able to start locking me. I need to make sure I’m always more than 2000m from objects so I can insta-cloak.

During your travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that has surprised you?

It’s vastness! There is a reason so few people have explored every solar system in New Eden and even fewer to explore every one in the game – as far as I know our own Katia Sae is the only one to have done so. It is just mindboggling how many light years across the place is and even travelling at multiple AU per second it takes hours and hours to get across it. I’m sure that there have been things in the game for ages that nobody has yet discovered. And this is all before you even consider player-generated content. I think you could play Eve for a lifetime and still find new things to do.

What advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Always know where your towel is.

But seriously, always think of what your worst case scenario is and what you would do in that scenario. Run mini drills with yourself so you don’t get paralyzed by fear when you are engaged. Join a corp, fly in fleets and have fun! If you just sit in an NPC corp forever not doing anything social then you are missing out on a huge part of the value of Eve.

The Journey of Katia Sae Video

The beauty that is Eve Online today began with the Dominion expansion that was released on December 1st, 2009. Starting with the planets, the expansion was the first in an effort to re-beautify the cluster which over the course of the following years included: the background nebulas, character models, the suns, and the gates as well as the recent update to Jita 4-4. Dominion was also the expansion that inspired me to begin my ten year long journey to explore all of New Eden to take in the re-beautifying effort.

Since the completion of my journey in March of 2019, I’ve been wanting to showcase some of my favorite images of the 50,000+ that I took over the course of my adventure as well as showing what it looks like to visit 7,805 (+ 1) systems. So, to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the Dominion expansion and my journey’s kickoff from Saisio in The Forge, please enjoy this video “The Journey of Katia Sae”, dedicated to CCP Games, especially the Art Team, and Signal Cartel.

The Fedo Liberation Army Needs You!

Editor’s Note: Every once in a while we like to post some of our fleet AAR’s (After Action Report) so folks can get a glimpse of life in Signal Cartel. This one had a bit of a fun twist brought to us by Sir Fiddle Sticks. I hope you enjoy reading his call to action and after action report! – Katia Sae

Call to Action!

Sir Fiddle Sticks

We have been very fortunate to have some exiting content provided to us over the years by the residents of Ienakkamon, they have provided many of us with spectacular rapid disassembly of hulls big and small! I for one will be forever grateful to them for all their selfless effort!

However this has resulted in innumerable Fedoes being stuck on the Solitaire with no prospect of rescue. This is an intolerable state of affairs that must be corrected, we can no longer standby knowing that hundreds of little Bobs family and friends are left marooned.

Fedo

To remedy this situation and thank the residents of Ienakkamon I propose, dare I say, an ingenious rescue plan, a plan of singular genius, audacity and cunning!

But for even the most brilliant plan to have a chance of success, I will need the assistance of all the dedicated, talented, and daring Signal Cartel pilots. Failure will result in the brilliant destruction of the fleet, while success will guarantee the glorious destruction of the fleet and the possible liberation of a great many Fedoes now and in the future.


After Action Report

War plans can be formed in many different ways, ways which embrace a myriad of tactics and philosophies. But however brilliant the plan , however great the genius forming a plan of war, they have one thing in common. They are all just destined to justify the phrase: “No Plan survives the first shot !

It was thus with our endeavor, no sooner had our brave cohort assembled and the plan was launched, that we ran into our first and greatest obstacle. One which was absolutely beyond our control, but for a few disinterested locals partaking in factional warfare, the field of battle was deserted. How were we to pay our respects and light up the antagonists of our little fable? How were we to impress upon them our great appreciation for their tireless toil to keep New Eden a vibrant colorful place that it is? We could not and as such had to change our approach to an alternate tack.

Refitting all available ships with entosis links we set to the task of freeing as many Fedoes as time allowed. Some of our fleet had difficulty in snagging Fedoes and mostly collected junk, but others managed to pull Fedoes to safety with the greatest of skill. To which end, the rescue of thirty Fedoes was achieved! A number which far exceeded our greatest expectations.

My personal thanks to all who assisted in this worthiest of causes!

But wait, that is not all! While we would have been happy to pack up after our allotted time and head back with a justified sense of accomplishment, lo and behold like specters out of the night, our “friends” appeared on d-scan and before we could react they landed on grid to perform their celebrated duties as the Guardians of the Solitaire.

Springing into action, every remaining Fedo was rushed to safety and then the fun began. All possible launchers were targeted and a spectacular pyrotechnic barrage was implemented! Implemented so successfully that after our loss of a mere six ships our new friends could do nothing more than recall their drones, admire the show, and after a time departed the system. Departed with what I imagine a shake of their heads and a newly found appreciation of the uniqueness of the sandbox that we all fly in.

For those who are new to Signal Cartel, this is one of the best examples I can offer to the effectiveness of our credo and its inspiration and guidance in approaching seemingly impossible situations.

Hail the Mighty Hugs Fleet!

Sir Fiddle Sticks

Shout out and thanks to Knoerp N’beekie for the video below!

Signaleer Aldar Roanaok

Editor’s Note: So glad to see another entry added to our Signaleer Series! It’s been a while since our last one, so I hope you enjoy this latest entry from Aldar Roanaok presented in character. – Katia Sae

Aldar Roanaok

“You know, I always wondered why the Sisters placed two stations here.”

Katia tilted her head and looked down at Aldar Roanoak, who was lounging in the seat beside her. Outside the station pale blue flashes tore at the planet below and even in Paleo Station it was enough to cause shadows to flicker around the bar. He was her next interview in the Signal Cartel Signaleer series she had been working on, but only if she were able to meet him in Thera. She didn’t mind too much as it was an opportunity to escape, at least for a little while, the responsibilities of her new life.

“I mean I did until I considered two things; one the Sisters are secretive zealots, and two Thera XII is a bloody maelstrom of interference.” Aldar smiled and waved Katia towards the other seat.

“It’s a fantastic place down there. It looks like Thera XII always had a ridiculous rotational speed but add in the relentless irradiation from the epicenter, and you don’t just have normal levels of lightning but enough to stir the pot on its own. The clouds rip past each other so fast the triboelectric effect along with gravitational settling pushes the electrical discharging into overdrive.”

Settling into the offered seat, she raised her eyebrow inquisitively, “And the Sisters?”

“Secretive, religious zealots with a scientific bent. Sitting here in their Institute of Paleocybernetics you could throw a fedo and hit their Surveillance Observatory and both are lovingly nestled inside a cacophony of EM radiation courtesy of our friend out there.” Aldar’s glass swung out and saluted the planet below. “I imagine you could get up to all sorts of interesting things and no one would ever be able to catch a sniff of it.”

“Aldar, you’re a cynic.” Katia said with half a grin. She could already tell this interview was going to be unique.

“You don’t think melancholic? Or maybe prudently skeptical?” He grinned.

A small snort was the only reaction and Aldar smiled even wider and leaned in. “Katia, where did you want to start? I was only planning on slipping through Thera, wave at the locals and then get back to chasing down a few things. Honestly, I was surprised you’d managed to slip the fans, hangers on, and stalkers just to catch up with me.”

Katia chuckled at his last comment which had now completely thrown her off her game when it came to conducting interviews. Clearly she had already lost control, but that was assuming she had any to begin with. So, she decided to just roll with it and asked, “What? Thera not really your style?”

Tapping the glass against his chin he looked around the bar. “I don’t think I’ve ever really stayed put anywhere. At least not since leaving the Center for Advanced Studies. I still remember slipping out of Cistuvaert as a real Capsuleer… thick as a plank and half as useful. Big massive gas giant hanging there on the undock and me floating in a capsule expecting a combination of blaster and mining laser to be able to take on all comers.”

“You mine!?”, feigning shock, Katia allowed a chuckle to escape.

“Not so much, though I’ve an oddly extensive skill set around it. Makes for a nice little Zen moment, slipping around a small mountain and carving it up. No, I slipped out and jumped into a wormhole and managed to not get lost; I was at a bit of a loss after that though. I suppose I was lucky, I had an older pilot reach out to me early on – absolutely terrified me.”

Aldar continued, “There I am frantically flipping overviews, d-scanning, warping myself left and right convinced I was about to be shot. Looking back, I’m fairly certain they were safed up and just checking local.”

“Was it anyone from Signal Cartel?” Katia asked, curious to learn just how it was Aldar had found himself in their corp.

“No, was a pilot named Sven Viko VIkolander. They had their own solo corp I think but they were great, letting me ask questions and everything. I remember them explaining they were in a bomber and planned on heading out to hunt. That absolutely captured my imagination – the whole idea of having an idea to do something and then just flying out to anywhere.”

“So that was me for a while.” Aldar further explained. “I had no real idea of New Eden’s regions but I flew, and died a lot, in low sec systems. Ouelletta was the first, I think. I jury rigged my Imicus just to try combat probing and salvaged orphaned drones for a while.”

“Eventually I made my way to Simela and contracted myself out to our lovely hosts. Or at least while I wasn’t throwing my Catalyst against sites that it really shouldn’t have tried. I’ve a weakness for flying wings, I think that’s why I sunk so many days into tactical destroyers – just wanted to sit in a Hecate.”

“So it sounds like you pretty much stuck with Empire space, no wormholes then?” Katia asked, settling into the interview.

“Not so much – I love slipping over the event horizon and threading spin networks and Yang-Mills fields, but no I never really spent much time there back then. I loved the freedom the gate system gave me. I could do anything and fly anywhere with no effort at all. Heck I rigged up a Thorax with probes and a mobile depot and went hunting Nexus chips. You must get that – a wanderlust.”

“I think all of us in Signal Cartel get that.” Katia nodded in agreement. “Sounds like a busy life Aldar, but you stayed with the Center?”

“Sure. I was happy on my own and the corp comms channel was entertaining enough, I guess. Basically, I was busy and worked to my own schedule and didn’t think I’d be able to make a decent contribution to a corp. And of course, all of the usual high drama and petty stakes of capsuler politics put me off. You’d think immortality would engender a certain self-reflection, but you’d think wrong.” He filled his glass and gave an inquiring look across the table

“Whisky?” She asked, eyeing his glass, “Sure, that is, if it’s any good?”

“Good? This was specifically pilfered from Igaze’s hanger, of course it’s good. It’s also an excellent reason to make sure I’m at least 4 jumps out before he gets back. Neat or a splash of water?”

“Neat is fine, thanks.” She accepted the poured glass, then raised it in a toast with a light laugh, “Here’s to Igaze never catching you.”

Taking a sip of the whisky, she nodded in approval then continued, “So what convinced you to come in from the cold and join Signal Cartel?”

“I’d had a hard run – I was trying mining missions in Angils out in Metropolis and I’d died a few too many times. Things had become frustrating and immortality stretched in front of me. So, I parked myself and queued up some training from the GalNet and went to sleep. Just floated off in a corner of space.”

“When I woke, my queue had been long empty, the Center’s comm channel was filled with new people I couldn’t care less about and I was casting about for a project. Eve-Scout was still around, and Signal Cartel’s model of solo capsuleers being alone together appealed to me. That and the idea of wanderers – going wherever they wished, whenever they wanted to, however they could. So, one official Tamayo approval letter later, I was onboard reading up on corporate policies and procedures when I met Allison.”


Years of flying by yourself does not prepare you for a neural plugged auditory hallucination that tells you to clean up and stand up straight like Allison does.”

“Was it the self-destruct?” Katia leaned forward smirking.

Aldar put his arms out wide, “I mean how could it have been anything else?”

Heads around the room turned towards them as they laughed a little too robustly from their inside joke.

“I’d just finished the ESRC portion of my readings and threw myself into the next wormhole. From there I fell into the rhythm of align, locate, and bounce to the cache. I mean I‘d like to say it came naturally but I was on Alliance chat laughing about skittering past the cache often enough early on to never be able to pull that story off. Still I managed it and then wound up in a search and rescue system with Auds Lenneluc, great pilot that came out and walked me through the setup, and prep for the extraction. It was great fun.”

“The real hook was The Great Hunt though. I’d joined just a few weeks before Talon Commander Fedi rolled in and Allison’s Skylab routine began driving us deep into Anoikis. It scratched an itch I’m not sure I could’ve articulated beforehand. Puzzles, lore, and that delicate balance between stringing data points together into a coherent story and self-deception.”

Katia faked a pout, “You missed my homecoming fleet though.”

Glancing down slightly and refilling his glass Aldar shrugged.

“So, what do you do now? I never see you in Saisio.” Which wasn’t too surprising, Katia’s home system was a quiet one and Signaleers were wanderers after all.

“Oh, this and that. There’s a caching milestone I’m slowly working towards. My tending has slowed down as other things take my interest. The new bookmark framework makes it easy for new people to join and contribute. They’re far exceeding any slack I might have introduced. I’ve really spent my time on research; chemical labs, trying to characterize these transient pirate gatherings that seem to come around year after year, unlocking Skylab routines, and working with ARC. That part sort of started when the Hives began spawning even more connections.”

“Captain Crinkle and a few of us spent time trying to nail down the new statics and mechanics. Allison still gets huffy when I point out I know there’s more than a single C2 static in Redoubt. A.D. Parrot tells me she’s unconvinced I know what I’m doing.” A smile flitted across the reflection in the window.

“Out of that I worked with ARC on Project JuRE which led me to try and run a small project on Triglavian invasion systems, Jove Observatories, and Drifter wormholes. Wonderful time working with Void Raven, Consolation Nutmeg, Troubled Watters, Nac Audene, and Sloopy Noopers. Other ARC specific projects rolled through. Fit well with my approach to flying… go anywhere and find something interesting.”

Katia sat back holding her glass like a crux and frowned slightly, “Like gate clouds?”

Aldar ran his hand through his hair and gave her a crooked grimace “I have it almost written up you know… or at least I’ve a definite outline.”

She rolled her eyes and waved her glass at him “So Pochven must drive you nuts?”

“Not initially, no. Slipping through Trig liminality systems was easy enough and fun. Getting pictures for the Observatory and then jumping away before the trig patrols could catch me kept me on my toes. Luckily the EVE-Scout Rescue Cache team had more productive ideas and setting up caches inside the Final Liminality systems seems to have been a solid one. You know, I don’t remember feeling anything as the Trigs pulled spacetime like taffy but once in Pochven it was just an empty walled garden. Few connections and few things of interest. I stayed to run some wormhole characterization and then left. Been at a bit of a loose end ever since.”

“So back to travelling then?” She asked taking another sip of her whiskey.

“Back to roaming.”

He stood, peering out at the undock and watched bubbles blossom around the station. ”I don’t really have a destination in mind. I’ve a few things I need to try out and a few new ships to die in.”

A real smile crept back in “Besides there are caches to sow, pilots to rescue, and things to figure out, out there in the dark. It’ll be an adventure.”

“That it will be.” Katia affirmed. “Fly clever Aldar. Thanks for the interview and the whiskey.” She smiled, raised her glass in a final toast, and downed the last of her drink.