Blackout

Editor’s Note: In true Signaleer fashion of being the content you wish to see, Quinn Valerii hosted an Eve Fiction Writing contest for the corp and I was honored to be asked to be one of the judges for it which also included Thrice Hapus and of course Quinn as well. This week and next week I’ll be posting up our top five winners. Personally I really enjoyed the contest, we’ve certainly got some talent in the corp and hope to see more in the future. Please enjoy our first installment.

Blackout

A short story by Signaleer Shiro Karagi

The following is based on a true story.

Shiro Karagi

The frigate Persimmon had seen better days. Its hull pockmarked with shrapnel and covered in scorch marks from countless glancing laser shots, the Imicus-class craft slowly banked around the asteroid, the Pilot keenly aware that his pursuer was still out there. Trying to fight his way out of the system was a fool’s errand – the reavers who hunted him were patient and cunning, harrying him through the cluster for the better part of a week before cornering him in a dead-end system. With no other way out, he could be certain they’d be waiting for him at the system’s sole warp gate while the rest of their gang carried out a methodical search of the various asteroid belts and derelict military staging posts he’d flown through in a desperate attempt to lose them.

Persimmon drifted between the rocks in silence, the light from the nearby star glinting slightly off her dull green paint. The Pilot drew his ship to an abrupt halt – from the other end of the asteroid belt, his pursuer emerged. The Sabre-class destroyer lurched into view, unfettered by a need to hide from it’s prey. Scarring from Persimmon’s few lucky reciprocal shots was evident along the pirate vessel’s left flank, with smoke billowing from one of the more serious injuries towards the rear of the craft. The destroyer bore the callsign Barbarous Bitch – it had been painted with stripes of metallic gold and the darkest black, and was festooned with imagery depicting every manner of gruesome atrocity known to man. The Bitch moved apace between the asteroids like an Amarrian slaver hound honing in on the scent of some poor, helpless wretch.

The Pilot’s saving grace was the electromagnetic anomaly both he and his pursuers had warped through to get here. With their onboard directional scanners disrupted by the sudden surge of power, and CONCORD’s failure to maintain local communication networks in the region, both predator and prey were forced to rely on their sight alone to locate each other. With great care, the Pilot guided Persimmon around the rear of a large asteroid mere moments before the Bitch came into view. The reaver suddenly opened fire on a nearby asteroid, obliterating it in an instant.

Shards of debris bounced off Persimmon’s hull, yet she remained still. The Pilot knew he couldn’t fight his way out of this one, and the only chance he had was to remain invisible and hope his pursuers grew tired of the chase. The Bitch stalked menacingly past the Pilot’s shelter, occasionally unloading its gatling cannons on any asteroid large enough to potentially shelter its target. The Pilot breathed a sigh of relief as the smoke billowing from the reaver ship faded into the distant recesses of the asteroid belt. Suddenly, the Pilot’s directional scan flickered. He glanced at it apprehensively – it was only a matter of time before the Persimmon’s systems recovered from the electromagnetic disruption, and the reavers’ ships’ systems wouldn’t be far behind. Staying put had kept him alive this long, but it wouldn’t last. He had to find a way out. The Pilot cautiously guided Persimmon out from behind their shelter at a glacial pace. His pursuers were experienced cutthroats, accustomed to operating in all manner of conditions. A temporary loss of directional scanning equipment wouldn’t deter them, nor would it render him invisible from keen eyes.

The scanner suddenly flickered to life, and the Pilot’s stomach sank as he glanced at it. Almost two score hostile craft had spread throughout the system, twice as many as had chased him in, with a small band blockading the warp gate and preventing any escape. The Pilot had to think quickly. Launching scanner probes was risky, but he had no other option. He activated the launcher, dispatching his remaining eight probes. Working quickly, the Pilot maneuvered the probes’ scan across the system, desperately trying to find a wormhole, while behind him a thick pillar of black smoke crested the asteroid belt and began moving towards the Persimmon. The Pilot pored over the scan data. If he could find a wormhole – and if his pursuers hadn’t found it already – he’d have a slim chance of escaping with his life. After a few stressful minutes, the Pilot grinned wearily as his probes finally honed in on one, located at the farthest edge of the system. If he weren’t encased in a capsule filled with goo, he might’ve jumped for joy.

It took 8.34 standard seconds for the Persimmon to align to the wormhole in preparation to warp, but it only took 7.69 standard seconds for the Barbarous Bitch’s autocannons to roar to life, ripping a hole in the side of the frail craft. Slammed hard against the side of his capsule by the force of the impact, the Pilot frantically attempted to return fire, but to no avail. The Bitch was too far out, and a futile salvo from the Persimmon’s aft railguns sailed listlessly over the reaver’s ship. The Pilot panicked as the Bitch’s cannons tore into his ship again like a ravenous beast. As the Persimmon entered its final moments, he hastily executed the emergency protocol programmed into the ship’s communications, and the information his pursuers sought was erased from existence.

His capsule bursting forth from the wreckage, the Pilot quickly aligned with the wormhole’s location and engaged the warp drive. The Bitch locked onto him in seconds, but to no avail – he was already gone.

The Pilot cursed himself as he hurtled through space towards his only chance of survival. The encrypted communications data he erased were worth billions to the right people, a fact the reavers chasing him knew all too well. His capsule slowed as it neared the wormhole, before leaving warp drive and slowing to a halt. He was mercifully alone here, with only the cold expanse of space to keep him company, his pursuers nowhere in sight. Before him lay the wormhole – a horrific, gaping maw into the unknown, an uncharted, unexplored anomaly that scoffed at the laws of time and space. The Pilot took a deep breath as he moved towards it. It was now or never, a slim chance of escape or certain death in the cold reaches of a forgotten, dead-end system. This wormhole was uncharted, and he had no idea where it led, but it surely couldn’t be any worse than here.

Surely.

The Pilot entered the wormhole from which he would never return.

In the backwater system, the Barbarous Bitch warped into range of the wormhole, her bearings creaking and shuddering as she left the warp. In her wake flew a fleet of two dozen fellow miscreants, outcasts and other assorted vermin. Her pilot stared unblinking at the yawning maw in front of her viewscreen. A few seconds passed in silence as the reprobate armada waited eagerly on their leader to make the call.

“Go.”

The Bitch and her hangers-on fired up their afterburners and marched onwards through the gaping tear in space that lay in front of them. They’d lost their prize, but they’d have the Pilot. They’d make sure of that, even if it cost them everything.

They too, entered the wormhole, oblivious to what they’d find there. They too, would never return.

State of the Signal #13

Editor’s Note: Following is our Corp State of the Signal, usually an internal status report written up by our CEO. This time around Thrice Hapus thought posting it publicly could provide some insight to those interested in Signal Cartel and what we do. So, please enjoy Thrice’s inaugural edition as our new CEO of the State of the Signal.

Thrice Hapus, CEO

Since assuming the CEO role in late April, I have spent some time getting familiar with my new duties and becoming more acclimated to the role. It turns out that the CEO chair is the perfect spot from which to look into all the things going on in our very busy corporation. In my inaugural State of the Signal newsletter, what better way to do this than by highlighting our corporate divisions and a few key services in the words of those divisional leaders themselves?

At 500 members strong and with a very high level of engagement, it is nearly impossible to keep up with everything going on in Signal Cartel, and no one person would be able to effectively manage all of it. While I am involved in Credo issues and the management of the corp as a whole, it is the individuals reporting below who do the actual heavy lifting day after day, keeping our corp programs and services running for all of us to enjoy and by which we are able to fulfill our core mandate as a service corp to New Eden.

After more than three years in Signal Cartel, I can honestly say that there is still no other group in New Eden I would rather belong to. It is men and women like our division heads who demonstrate what it means to be a Signaleer: They are dedicated, consistent, passionate about their areas of expertise, always willing to share info and help our newer members — and they do it all with kindness, friendliness, and little expectation of acclaim. It is my hope that this, our 13th State of the Signal, will shine a light on all of their hard work over the last six months or so, and encourage each of our members to step out boldly and, in Mynxee’s well-known phrase, “be the content they wish to see in New Eden and in Signal Cartel!”

Anoikis Division

Manager: John Young
John Young

For those who missed our re-launch in May: Anoikis Division is back! Now operating independently out of a C3 wormhole, Anoikis Division is the perfect place to get your feet wet in the basics of wormhole living. But more than the wormhole itself, AD takes immense pride in the amazing group of pilots counted among our ranks. With boundless initiative, AD pilots such as Nemo Amarodan and Xxasha have expertly developed a standardized bookmarking procedure to keep track of sigs, and enormous material generosity by HeavyDealer has even allowed us to begin industry in the wormhole! I’d also be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the stellar behind-the-scenes work done by Tamayo and Angel Lafisques, who, among others, have kept the gears turning smoothly on this fledgling division when I was unable to do so myself. Things are only looking up! So come join the team, and partake in this exciting adventure in wormhole space alongside your fellow corpmates!

Engineering and BuyBack

Managers: A Dead Parrot & Sky Diamond
Engineering
AD Parrot

In early February, Engineering started to work on a new Member Management Application (MMA), which aimed for a streamlined process for recruiters and leadership to handle the daily work of processing pending applications to join the corp and managing current member statuses. Right from the beginning, Auds Lennelluc joined the endeavor and took the responsibility for the UI, while Sky Diamond wrote the code.

While the new application process was being reimplemented, the idea popped up to replace the old and outdated map showing the locations where our Signal Cartel members are currently living. However, the team lacked the skills to map the locations to a world map. After asking around in #developers, HIromoto San quickly stepped up and started working on the world map, which after a few iterations led to the final new map.

On April 28th, MMA went live. Since then, our recruitment team has a pretty streamlined tool at hand to get the daily applications processed quickly.

Buyback
Sky Diamond

The corp buyback program, which is operated by the service corporation [redacted], started business on January 1st this year and is operated by Auds Lennelluc, Chaim Achasse, and Sky Diamond.

In case you have not heard of it yet, the service is provided at [redacted] and buys any of your loot or other stuff you want to get rid of in all the official Signal Cartel offices.

So far, the service has handled roughly 700 contracts from 150 different pilots. We have pushed more than 150 public courier contracts to our hauler mailing list, which amounted to around 150b ISK passing through our books so far this year.

EvE-Scout Rescue

Manager: Igaze
Igaze

Around the beginning of this year Thrice handed the keys to the EvE-Scout Rescue Division over to me. When I was offered the position a big reason I decided to accept was the strength the ESR team of Coordinators and 911 Operators. A strong team means light work for the director, and the ESR team has amply proved this. Mostly I get the fun of doing the paperwork and handing out ISK, while the operators and coordinators handle the rescuing.

One of the first things I needlessly worried about was topping up the ESR Fund that is used to payout our cachers, dispatchers, and rescuers every week. Early in the year we ran a fund drive with the aim to collect 50b ISK in donations. I expected this could take a few weeks but we blew past the goal in two days with the bulk of the funding coming from our own members. It was very humbling for me to realize how much support the program has.

There have been a few changes in the coordinator group in the last six months, with the current team now consisting of Triffton Ambraelle, Angel Lafisques, Captain Crinkle, Chaim Achasse, Xalyar, and our newest Coordinators: Sydney Selket and Dagmar Maulerant. They handle our rescues expertly. When Allison lets you know you’ve found a SAR system, you can expect one of them to be helping you out within minutes. This year we’ve had 105 successful SAR rescues, including everything from pods to carriers! There are a number of great AARs in the forums and on our blog to check out.

Our 911 Operators are our front line, responding to rescue requests and guiding pilots to safety. We currently have 28 active 911 Operators working hard for New Eden. They and the coordinators have helped 108 pilots access rescue caches since January 1st this year. In that time Xalyar and I have run seven 911 training sessions with over 40 attendees.

Since we started tracking we have completed 733 rescues. 43% of those are within 24 hours, and our average wait time is four days.

Many thanks to the 281 pilots who sowed and tended caches this year! In total you have sowed/tended 25,598 times! Your hard work has kept our cache count around or over 2000 for much of the year so far. That is amazing considering this time last year we had dropped down to 1500 caches. This is in no small part to the participants of CrinkleQuest, our June caching event. Expect a similar event in the Fall. Keeping the caches tended is a huge part of our rescue success: caches are more than half our rescues, and the caches that are accessed have often been kept alive by many tends.

I’d also like to mention a few of our cachers who have gone above and beyond. Auds Lennelluc, Aldar Roanaok, Bliss Dwellerya, Pod Person, Tekufah, and Palis Airuta became UltraCachers, sowing and tending over 1000 caches each. Tamayo and Mako Koskanaiken both achieved HeroicCacher status, breaking 3000 caches! Captain Crinkle became our first InsaneCacher, surpassing 5000 caches sowed or tended!!

On the Search and Rescue side, Sydney Selket completed more than 10 rescues to earn her Silver Lifesaver medal, while Chaim Achasse and Captain Crinkle became Gold Lifesavers with over 50 rescues apiece!

Lastly, I’d like to thank A Dead Parrot and Allison. They are the linchpin to this division. Allison’s continued growth is incredibly important to the success of ESR!

It’s been a busy and rewarding first seven months on the job for me. Thanks to everyone who contributes to this program and its continued success.

OPSEC

Manager: [redacted]

[redacted]

Recruiters and 1420.Expeditionary

Manager: Mynxee
Recruiters
Mynxee

Our Recruiters continue to do an excellent and important job. Bob N Weave recently joined the Recruitment team, which adds Recruiter coverage to a time zone that needed it. A well-deserved shout-out to Sky Diamond and Auds Lennelluc for their wizardly work on MMA (more detail in Engineering section above). MMA automates formerly tedious tasks and has made life for leadership and the recruitment team a whole lot easier!

We appreciate all of you who respond to questions posted by prospective members in our public channel or elsewhere. To be sure that interested folks are getting accurate, up-to-date info, please always link them to our Joining FAQ. Current members who have questions about bringing their alts into Signal Cartel should review our Corp Policies document. Both the Joining FAQ and Corp Policies docs are linked in the DII.

1420.Expeditionary Division

The 1420.Expeditionary Division (as linked in the DII) is a relatively inactive division under which TripTik development is managed and I conduct my own in-space field research into exploration matters (such as how long before a relic/data site despawns when cherry-picked).

I would like to see our TripTik library grow and enjoy more regular use by individual pilots and sightseeing fleets. There is a lot of interesting and esoteric stuff to see in New Eden, especially when you start digging into the lore. TripTiks are a great way to learn more about the lore and make lore information accessible in small bites, both for our own members and every other pilot as well. For more info on how to contribute to or use the TripTik library, please review the post linked above. Even the newest of pilots can research and develop a TripTik, and you can earn medals for contributing quality work!

Signal Cartel Fleet School

Manager: Andrew Chikatilo
Andrew Chikatilo

Thanks to Théana Gaterau for a great first year of the Fleet School. She has started something great here in Signal Cartel. To date, 185 unique pilots have participated in SCFS Fleets. It is her sincere hope that number continues to grow as the Division moves into its next phase under Andrew’s leadership.

(prepared by Théana Gaterau)

Splunkworks

Manager: Scarsan Stripes
Scarsan Stripes

Splunkworks is a division that strives to teach fitting skills, rather than simply hand out fittings. The team currently consists of four players: Scarsan Stripes, Snyypa Voltron, Fonsui, and Aliza Kootz. We tend to spend most of our efforts developing and honing Fleet concepts for SCFS. We also monitor the Splunkworks category of the forums and try to help anyone who posts there. On top of that, we are charged with maintaining the Corporate fittings and staying on top of the ever changing minds of CCP with regards to ship layouts. The main tool we use for this is called Pyfa. If you are not familiar with Pyfa, you should be!

Corp Services

Manager: Katia Sae
Observatory
Katia Sae

You may or may not be aware that our Observatory is a bit on the blink. There a couple of reasons for that. Last year, Flickr placed a limitation of 1,000 Free Photo Storage, followed by a move away from the Yahoo login to a new login system. The storage limitation was a nuisance, but the login change caused us some issues and we lost access. Since that time, we’ve been looking into hosting our own Observatory, but of course that takes funds, so we’re still looking at those options. For now, you can still enjoy the photos that had been submitted to Flickr as well as submit and enjoy photos in our Discord channel EvE-Scout Enclave #eve-observatory.

Signal Cartel Group Blog

I’m thrilled with the response to our Signal Cartel Group Blog relaunch. Since May of this year, we’ve had a total of 3 poems, 5 short stories, 2 rescue reports, and launched a new series highlighting 3 of our fellow Signaleers with more to come! Be sure to check them out.

Also, if you’ve ever thought you’d like to try blogging or enjoy writing and wanted to post your work publicly, then be sure to check on our forums on how to get started and submit your work. If you’d like to participate in our Signaleers series then check out our forums as well.

It’s my hope to be able to continue to post a new entry weekly or at least twice a month, so please, I’d love to hear from you!

Quartermasters

Who are our Quartermasters (QMs)? Well, they’re the ones working quietly behind the scenes making sure supplies you may need are on hand in our offices. They are posted by location:

  • Gelhan: Auds Lennelluc & Orsel Solette
  • Saisio: Asa Kansene & Katia Sae
  • Thera: Trnt
  • Zoohen: Zooey Lebowski

Since we are The Exploration corp, we try to keep stocked those ships and items that support that endeavor, such as free T1 starter exploration frigates, skill books, ESRC supplies, fireworks, and more. We do our best to keep the stocks up but if you see something that’s not on-hand, please let your local QMs know.

Also, we’re hopeful that our Engineering Division will be looking into the development of some tools that will help us manage our stations, so I only see things improving in the future to keep your exploration needs stocked.

Signaleer Theana Gaterau

Editor’s Note: This week in our continuing series, Theana Gaterau joins us with a freeform response to our curious questions. For those that don’t know Theana Gaterau, please let me just take a moment and introduce her. One of Signal Cartel’s foundational stones is be the content you wish to see. Theana took that to heart when founding and building our Signal Cartel Fleet School. (Yes, Signal Cartel runs fleets that partake in the PVE content that EVE has to offer 😊 ) Because of her hard work and dedication leading and FCing weekly fleets, mentoring up and coming FC’s, building a great Admin team, Signal Cartel can proudly say we have a full-fledged PVE fleet division that our members can participate in. To date that’s been 185 unique pilots participating in SCFS Fleets. Thanks Theana!

Theana Gaterau

Refresher of the questions that inspired her response.

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played? What is your background as a pilot? What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Theana Gaterau, “The Hyena”, SCFS Founder

I started playing Eve on January 1, 2018. I joined Signal Cartel almost immediately and became a Signaleer on January 9, 2018. As a brand new pilot in a very big universe, I wanted to learn about the cluster and exploration seemed like a good way to do that. Participating in the ESR program by tending rescue caches was something I could do right away and I set out into Anoikis to tend and sow rescue caches. In recent months my interests have turned to PvE. I’m still out in wormholes a good bit of the time, but I spend more time now eradicating The Sleeper Menace than I do tending rescue caches.

My first “goal” in Eve was to move up from my starter Imicus into Captain Crinkle’s Helios fit. It was a major accomplishment for me when I could fly that fit comfortably!

Damnation, SCFS No Touchie

I wanted to get involved in some group activities and trained into a Coercer for VulfPup fleets. I flew my first fleet on February 9, 2018 and even though I ended up losing my ship, I knew that fleet PvE was what I wanted to do.

There weren’t very many fleet opportunities in Signal Cartel at the time, so I decided I would create the content I wanted to see. I remapped for Charisma and started training the fleet support skills I would need to effectively FC. After a lot of training I am now able to use the Armored Command Mindlink. My bursts are strong!

One of the best moments I’ve had in-game was the day I undocked the Vex’ahlia, gifted to me by Quinn Valerii. I lost that hull in The Killings at Kurnianen but I rebuilt. To this day I fly a modified version of that fit, now named SCFS No Touchie, every time I lead an Armor Fleet in combat.

That hull is skinned and started out black!

Learning to FC wasn’t an easy path initially, and still isn’t. I learn something new every time I take out a fleet. Sometimes it’s something I should have done but didn’t, and sometimes it’s something I did that I shouldn’t have done. Mistakes are going to happen – the goal is to learn from those mistakes and get better.

The best advice I can give, based on my limited experience, is EVERYTHING is ammo. Ammo is ammo, hulls are ammo, and pods are ammo. Give a good fight and Die With Glory!

Theana Gaterau’s Damnation SCFS No Touchie

Anoikis (a poem)

Void Raven

I pass through space,
I pass through time,
in this most wondrous place.
Mesmerizing, so sublime;
childlike awe upon my face.
Here I cannot ever reign.
I am lost; lost again.

Planets hang in velvet night.
Shattered, plasma, lava, storm;
one and all a stirring sight.
About a parent star they swarm;
children bathed in loving light.
Naught here is mundane.
I am lost; lost again.


All alone and solitary,
to the silence I resign.
Awash in beauty far from ordinary;
behind me vivid colors shine.
In this hallowed sanctuary,
ancient and arcane,
I am lost; lost again.

Is this real or a dream?
The question burns;
the truth unseen.
The soul, it yearns
for Anoikis; so supreme.
May it always thus remain,
so I can be forever lost again.

  • Void Raven

Signaleer Thrice Hapus

Thrice Hapus, CEO, Signal Cartel

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

Editor’s Note: This answer was taken from Thrice’s introduction forum post when he had only been with Signal Cartel for one month. It’s a fun read!

Thrice Hapus

I’ve enjoyed playing MMO games since they started becoming more popular a decade or so ago. My play time has always been fairly limited, so I’ve mostly stuck to the tried and true, like World of Warcraft, and it’s been a lot of fun. This past year, though, those games have started to lose my interest. After spending years completing quests, farming mobs, skilling up mostly meaningless professions, and seeing the online community slowly disintegrate, I realized it just wasn’t that much fun anymore. I still enjoyed the genre and still hoped for the promise of community that MMOs offered; I just wasn’t finding it in WoW and their ilk any more. And I really wished it would all be a bit more meaningful at the end of the day. Of course, it’s “just a game”, but even within an avocation, progress should mean something more than simply time put in, and that progress should be fun to attain. And, in an MMO, it should all be done within a great, supportive, challenging community. Otherwise, what’s the point?

I’d heard about EVE on and off over the years. Mostly about how awful everyone who plays it is to one another, how cutthroat it can be, how it’s mostly boring with a few brief moments of excitement here and there. Still, the science fiction setting appealed to me, and as I read about its almost entirely player-driven economy and industry, I realized this might be an MMO where “crafting” was worthwhile and “progress” was what you made of it, even if the community was a bit rough. Maybe a hostile community would be better than none at all?

So I decided to check it out in December of last year. The UI and premise of EVE are so completely different from what I was accustomed to, that it took me a bit just to get my bearings. As I started to read and learn, I was astounded by the general helpfulness and courtesy in rookie chat. This was not at all the sort of community I had expected to find based on what I had heard about EVE. Not only was everyone fairly respectful (in rookie chat, not so much in NPC corp chat!), but there were so many people online at the same time! It felt like I was part of a bustling society, and one where I might over time find a way to make my own small contribution.

I realized right away just how HUGE a game this is. I struggled to figure everything out. Once I undocked for the first time, I struggled to even know where to begin! Someone in rookie chat turned me on to the career agent missions, and those proved to be exactly what I needed to get better acclimated. After running all of the career agent missions and the Blood-Stained Stars SOE epic arc (occasionally thinking, “I’m right back to running quests again…”), I fell in love with exploration. I’ve never enjoyed PvP all that much, mostly because my reflexes are not as quick as most, so it is hard for me to keep up! But to be able to stealthily whisk around New Eden, avoiding PvP more often than not as my skills increased and my knowledge of game mechanics grew and not just based on my “twitch” — that appealed to me quite a bit. And to be able to make a potentially very large amount of ISK in the process; well, that just sealed the deal.

After the final mission of the SOE arc ended, I realized there was no clear “next step” I was being channeled into by the game. I thought, “I guess I’m NOT just back to running quests again!” And I knew right away what I wanted to do: Get out into null sec and start making some big money on relic sites. But first I wanted to dip my toe into low sec and see how I fared there.

Before my first foray into low sec, I had read something from a more experienced capsuleer about how he had never lost a ship while outside of high sec. I think now this must have been sheer braggadocio on his part, but at the time I thought I could probably achieve the same pristine loss ratio.

Despite everything I’d read about not flying ships you couldn’t afford to lose, and thinking I was prepared for it to happen, my first death to another player was rough. Even though it was a mostly stripped Velator and easily replaced, it rattled me to be so quickly snuffed out. I am extremely risk-averse, even when it’s only pixels on the line, and so I made it my goal to get smarter, fly safer, and not “lose” again.

Imicus

I had good success for about a month. I learned more about fitting an Imicus and had some success in running sites in low sec. I got more comfortable in systems with other players. I learned about bookmarks and safespots and started placing them faithfully in every system I was in. I read the well-known exploration guide, Billions and Billions of ISK, and started having dreams of becoming space rich. And I had some pretty good luck. I didn’t lose a single ship all month long.

One of my very first treks into null sec was planned to be a quick ten-jump hop in and back from Gallente low sec. The stars aligned and I found some quiet systems with relic sites I could actually hack without them exploding on me. When I hit 200 million ISK in my hold, I figured I had better quit while I was ahead and scramble back to high sec to sell it all off. This was all going to go just like I had envisioned. Getting rich via exploration was going to be a cakewalk! All I had to do was rinse and repeat what I had just done and I would have it made in no time.

But, of course, that’s not how it works. My luck ran out, and I got blown up and podded in a bubble at a gate camp on MHC-R3, one jump away from my low sec connection system. I thought losing that Velator was rough, but losing my first Imicus, “Odyssey”, to another player was something different entirely. This ship was mine in a way the rookie Velator had never been. I had real time logged in it, real effort invested in its fit, and a hold containing the, for me, unbelievable sum of 200 million ISK. (zKillboard value is different now, but I’m sure it was 200 million+ at the time of the kill.)

I was devastated. Like sick-to-my-stomach-couldn’t-catch-my-breath CRUSHED. I was so dispirited by the image of my frozen corpse floating in the black void of uncaring space that I immediately quit the game and had to get up from the computer and walk away. Because of my “success” the prior month, I assumed I must be doing everything right and was well on my way to “winning” at EVE, or at least my version of it.

After three days of sulking, I finally got up enough courage to try to replace what I had lost. I fitted a new Imicus, headed back to the same area of Syndicate, and started over. This time I was ready for any contingency: I had a mobile depot stowed in my hold, and I would anchor it at a safespot and dump all my cargo in it if I felt uncomfortable at a gate.

Soon I had about 50 million ISK in loot, and I decided I would head back with that. I jumped from 8-JYPM to EZA-FM and found myself at a camped gate. (“Oh, no, not again!”) My heartbeat quickened. I quickly retreated back through the gate and warped to one of my safespots before I could be followed. Once there, I deployed my mobile depot, stashed all my hard-won loot in it — and then wasn’t sure what to do next.

I could log off in space and wait them out. I could try taking another route back to somewhere “safer”. But there was no way I could see to play the game and be as safe as I wanted to be. So, I figured, “What the heck?” and I jumped my now-empty ship back into EZA-FM, got trapped in a bubble, and saw my corpse floating in space once again.

Since my hold was empty, I didn’t think getting podded would bother me that much. But it really did. Because now I was back in Gallente high sec with no good options to gather up my loot from the mobile depot. I had 50 million ISK, and no way to get to it. And I could go scan down some more sites and find some more loot, but what was to prevent the exact same scenario unfolding each and every time I did so?

I was so proud of my little bit of progress in learning to scan, thinking to stow a mobile depot, making tactical and safespot bookmarks. But despite my very best efforts, EVE was beating me. EVE was just really, really hard. Too much for me, I guess. I uninstalled it from my computer and tried to forget about it.

A couple months went by. Although I didn’t really want to even login to EVE at all, I followed a few headlines about the game here and there. One of the things that initially fascinated me about EVE was how it would occasionally show up in the actual IRL news due to some especially egregious player behavior (either in-game or otherwise) or a huge battle the losses of which amounted to an astonishing sum even when tabulated in US dollars. One such headline caught my eye: the announcement of Andrew Groen’s history of EVE’s early wars, Empires of EVE, being released.

I think I bought it on my Kindle the day it came out. Even though I was lousy at the actual game, I still really loved the world CCP and the players had created, the depth of the lore, and, more importantly, the ridiculously intricate web of alliances and corporations (and the inevitable clashes between them) that the players had layered on top of it all. Maybe I couldn’t play in that world, but I would at least enjoy reading about the heroics and anti-heroics of those who could.

Empires of EVE reads like a history text aimed at a non-academic audience. In other words, it is a bloody page-turner. Even though the aspect of the game it details—huge wars between massive alliances—is one that I have little desire to participate in myself, it is incredibly engaging reading. I recommend it to anyone, both in-and outside of the EVE community. It is fun to learn more about some of these outsized characters and the real people behind them. It is fascinating to eavesdrop on back-room deals and to witness heart-breaking espionage. I almost could not put it down. And when I was finished I knew I had to re-engage with this magnificent, awful, wonderful, terrible universe in some capacity.

Empires of EVE

I also knew the main thing I would do differently. My best early experience in EVE was the rookie chat channel. When I got kicked out of it after my first 30 days in the game, I felt very much alone. Empires of EVE had convinced me that EVE was best experienced as part of an active corporation. The first thing I would do when I logged in again would be to apply to a corp. And that is just what I did.

I reinstalled the game. I re-upped my subscription. I logged back in. The last player who had podded me had belonged to EVE University, and I had relied heavily on their wiki during my first month of learning the ropes in the game. Since I am a teacher (among other things) at my day job, the idea of belonging to a corp that existed to help new players learn the game and improve their skills appealed to me.

The folks at E-UNI are terrific. Incredibly helpful, dedicated players who go out of their way to help you learn. Although their application and induction processes are a learning curve in their own right, once navigated successfully, a world of options opens up to you as a member. And I surveyed a lot of them, trying to figure out the best way to engage with this new group. Campuses in high sec, low sec, and null sec. Even a wormhole campus. (Wormholes, what’re those?) Courses on planetary interaction and skilling up an alt to try that out. Skilling up a hauling alt and trying that out for a bit. Joining the mentor program to see what I could learn from a more seasoned player. Learning about FleetUp and Mumble and higher-level mission running.

But something was missing. And it wasn’t hard at all to figure out what it was. I had fallen in love with exploration, and I could not find any group of folks pursuing this somewhat lonesome interest as a group. Not that such a thing doesn’t exist within the Uni—within their vast offerings, I am sure it must! But I could not find it, and so found myself in a corp at last, but with little to contribute.

And, for me, it all felt a little self-serving—chasing all these personal in-game interests just so I could make a little bit of ISK so I could chase those same interests some more. It conjured up memories of the “grind” I was trying to get away from in other MMOs. After experiencing the majestic, larger-than-life sweep of Empires of EVE, I wanted to be part of something larger within the game, to make a contribution that mattered in some way beyond just kicking in some ISK in taxes to the corporation’s coffers while I went about my own business.

That’s when I remembered seeing a departure mail from a Unista mentioning they were leaving the University to join up with a corp that was more exploration-centric, called “Signal Cartel”. I dug that mail up, and started following some links.

I’ve been with Signal Cartel for exactly one month as of today. I feel a little foolish saying it, because I don’t know any of you very well, but I think I’ve found the place where I can make my own small contribution to the grand world of New Eden, in a way that is both fun for me and still genuinely helpful. I believe I’ve found my home in EVE.

I’ve loved being involved with the Thera Wormhole Maintenance program, and I plan to continue on with that work as much as I am able. It was great fun to see my name show up on the EvE-Scout web site after I’d mapped my first Thera hole to Tripwire. And I’ve been able to do most of this mapping work in my humble, beloved Imicus (I think I’m on “Odyssey IV” now), so losing a ship isn’t too big a deal. And if I’m super-strapped for ISK, I am grateful to know the Ship Replacement contracts are just a click away.

It has been a great eye-opener to learn about wormholes in general, and to be more or less “living” in one now is not something I would have foreseen even one short month ago. As I learn more and continue to build up my piloting skills, I’m looking forward to participating in the Search and Rescue program and the Rescue Cache seeding. And I hear something about a dedicated “Anoikis” division of the corp; I might have to check that out, too.

And when I need a change of pace from all of that, there are still relic and data sites to be scanned down and hacked. I just made my first successful foray into Sansha space the other day, hacked about 50 million ISK from a single site, and made it back to Thera safe-and-sound, thanks to knowing a little bit more, being a bit more bold, and having a few more skillpoints accumulated. And I was piloting a Helios, if you can believe it! I’m really living on the edge these days.

Ares

They say that “EVE is real”, and while that’s mostly just marketing, there is, as with all the best hyperbole, a note of truth to it. I’m real. So are you! We’re building something together that’s made out of time and effort, and that’s real. Offering services to the entire community of New Eden at no cost is a good of measurable value. That’s real. And helping, by our participation, to manufacture the warp and weft of what Signal Cartel is all about, both as a refuge for the beleaguered and a tonic for the jaded, is perhaps of the most enduring worth. I can’t thank Mynxee and Mr. Splunk enough for envisioning and establishing this ideological “safe harbor” in the rough-and-tumble world of EVE.

I’ve got a skill queue almost two years long now, thanks to direction from the New Member Guide and some other reading I’ve been doing, so I guess I’ll be around for a while. My heart still races in a lot of situations, and I will inevitably lose another big haul at some point in the (not-too-distant) future. I’ll see my frozen corpse out in space yet again, I’m sure. But when I do, I won’t be staring into the void alone. I have a home to go back to now.

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

It’s beautiful. I actually cried the first time I flew in space after I upgraded my graphics card and could run the game in something other than pure potato mode. It’s the most gorgeous game I’ve ever seen, and I love space and sci-fi.

When I started playing, I wanted to become someone like Chribba in-game. A rare trusted person within the den of thieves. Then I found Signal Cartel and realized I was way more interested in doing that within a community than doing it solo as he had done. Running ESR for about 18 months was a step in that direction. COO of the corp was, too. Now I’ll try my hand at CEO for a while and see how it goes.

In 2018, I had a short-term goal of wanting to see Signal Cartel get some mainstream gaming press, and, much to my surprise, we had the interview in PC Gamer by March. A Talking in Stations appearance followed. And then all the cool stuff around your Katia Sae’s quest that recently wrapped up with the statue this April. It’s been a pretty awesome year for seeing Signal Cartel in the news!

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

It’s embarrassing to say, but I do not. I so rarely undock any more. I have my Astero for wormholes and my Ares for null and a bunch of other random ships for the rare occasions I can make a SCFS fleet. Almost all of my game time these days is email, forums, Discord, etc. I guess on Bartle’s taxonomy, I am officially a Socializer these days.What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring?

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

AD Parrot

The naming of systems is so interesting to me. I read that the nullsec names were generated from a database of expired Iceland automotive license plates. I do not know if this is true, but I hope that it is. The mystery of J-space names is still out there to be solved. I know they must mean something! I have spoken with AD Parrot about this at length, and I know he has some theories.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

If you want to see something or be something in New Eden, you can make it happen. So cool!

Do you have a favorite image from your explorations?

Go to Razorien’s flickr and choose a random image. That one is my favorite today. It will be a different one tomorrow.

Astero, Signal Cartel Birthday Fleet by Razorien