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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
At 20:06 EVE time we received a 911 call from a pilot (we’ll call him Daniel) trapped in a C5. Right off the bat this call was unusual. The first thing I always do when a call comes in is to check our mapping for the wormhole in question to see if we have anything in Tripwire, or recorded by our co-pilot ALLISON. Normally we’re faced with the disappointment of no potential chains at all, in this case we have a HUGE web with a lot of fairly recent connections. Unfortunately all of them were like, C6 > C5 > Null, C4 > Null, C6 > Null, and a lot of those were critical either in mass or time remaining to collapse. This chain was mapped meticulously by Catbriar Chelien earlier in the day, so we had a lot of good intel to help us get there quickly.
I immediately pointed out that we had a chain to the 911 operators channel, and asked if anyone had a way to get to those Null Sec systems (I was deep in my own chain, and not in a particularly null-friendly ship or pod). 911 operator miruxa put out a call in alliance chat in-game for anyone who might be near the Null Sec systems, and Auds Lennelluc and Bang N’ Donk answered the call and raced there while I made contact with the pilot, Daniel.
At this point I learned his ship had been destroyed and he was in a pod with expensive implants, so I told him help was coming but it would take time to scan him out a useful exit, and he should bounce around and make some safes. Thankfully the hole quieted down. Auds and Bang were surprisingly close by and arrived at more or less the same time, one a jump ahead of the other, and started scanning (Bang holding the system the pilot was in, Auds moving out to check the adjacent holes). They soon confirmed that there were no exits to Known space except the three Null systems we knew about. There were so many critical holes, it was too risky to roam too much further looking for more.
My attempts to find an easy-ish, safe-ish route there having failed, I now realized I had to try to get there somehow anyway, as this would take extensive scanning and the chance of some rescuers getting cut off by collapsing holes. Thankfully one of the Null systems in the chain was “only” nine jumps from Thera. I eventually remembered that I kept a jump clone and rescue Astero in Thera, which allowed me to skip the step of having to find Thera from wherever I came out of my chain, and also put me in an empty clone for my mad dash through Null. To my great relief, many of the systems were empty. One was held by Goons, but they gave me no trouble. Another had a 2-person gate camp which was no match for my Astero’s sub-2-second align time, and the next had some bubbles which I was able to cloak and fly out of. Auds had come in from one of the other Null systems and been chased by a Sabre, so I considered my path relatively lucky.
When I got to the pilot’s system we continued scanning, but still found nothing anywhere close by. At this point we decided we’d have to call off the search until new connections formed, and we would ping the pilot in our Stranded Pilot’s Lounge on Discord once we had an exit.
….5 hours later….
Igaze, by this point, had wisely decided we needed more backup and snuck in through Null and installed an alt in the hole, and updated Tripwire with what little had changed. Still nothing useful in the hole itself. Now with 3 rescue pilots logged off in the hole, I felt comfortable going on a longer adventure past the critical holes. I ventured out of the C5 to one of the two neighboring C6’s… through a critical mass hole to another C5 which we had already scanned… in which I found a newly spawned sig — a wormhole! — a C4… which had a C3 and C5 static. At this point I’m confident that the C3 will eventually lead somewhere useful, so I began scanning for it, while alerting Igaze that we might have an usable chain soon. Before I found the C3 I found an unexpected C4, and for some reason go in it. Wouldn’t you know, it’s a shattered system and has a high sec static! After scanning waaaaay too many sigs, I finally found the High Sec static, and double back to make sure I’ve left corp bookmarks all the way down the chain in both directions, so all the rescue pilots can follow the path without needing to scan.
Igaze is already in game, so once I have the chain ready to go he switches to his alt in the system. I ping Bang and Auds, and Bang is available and also logs in (Auds is asleep, which is also why it’s useful to get extra pilots in the system: you never know in what time zone you might need to conduct the rescue). We get in place in the first two systems in the chain, and then ping the pilot. About a half hour later he responds, and logs in and joins our fleet.
At this point we begin the process of leapfrog that it takes to get a stranded pilot down a long chain. Bang will be the target for the pilot to warp to get out of the initial system and from that point will hang back and stay with the pilot as closely as possible, dropping ping bookmarks on each hole (using a technique shared by Igaze at Eve North). Igaze and I will move ahead and provide immediate warp-to points at each wormhole along the way so the pilot can go straight from hole to hole all the way out. We also serve as scouts to make sure the path remains clear ahead.
Daniel warps to Bang and exits the first system, then I’m up next at the far end of the C6. I encounter an unknown battleship when I land on that hole, who accidentally uncloaks me before disappearing, leading to Bang and Daniel having to bounce around a bit while I get back in position, and Igaze jumps into the hole to make sure the other side is clear. Igaze sees the battleship and a Tengu and suspects they’re about to roll the hole, and we all quickly agree to keep going and try to push through. Daniel warps to me and jumps, as Igaze moves on to the following exit. While Daniel is warping to Igaze I’m going two jumps ahead to be ready on the High Sec exit. As I leave the hole where Igaze is waiting and activates my warp to the High Sec one, our fleet chat blows up first with a concern that the pod landed 20km off the hole, then cries of “TENGU!” “BAIL!” It’s too late to stop my warp. Had I not been mid-warp I’d have gone back in and tried to create a distraction. But I’m helpless until I can arrive at my destination on the other side of the system and turn around and come back. By then I figure it’s too late — they’ve either escaped or not, and all I’m going to accomplish by jumping in is get myself polarized and unable to get back to the High Sec hole to complete the rescue should the pod make it through. So I perch on the other side of where they are and ask in chat if they’re OK. It sounds like the Tengu went off momentarily, so they make a run for it.
Unknown to me, Igaze had also jumped just as the Tengu was arriving, so it was up to Bang to distract the Tengu while the pod made a run for it. It’s best experienced in Bang’s own words:
During the event with the Tengu, I happened to have landed a few moments before the pod landed. The second I landed I would have usually burned a bit off the hole so I could cloak just as a general precaution. This time however I didn’t feel I needed to. The immediate threat of the Tengu was in the back of my mind at the time as I thought that since our guy was in a pod he would be more than capable of making it past no problem before the cruiser had any chance of locking him. It was no big deal, there weren’t any bubbles or instant locking ships on scan which would be the most probable threat to him. Besides we had more pressing issues such as the limited time we had to navigate out of the chain. So I thought, what could possibly go wrong if we just ignored the Tengu and continued on? And that’s when our pod landed 20km off the hole…
Panic immediately sets in as the pilot tries to slow boat the 20km to the hole in his pod. Before I could even get the slightest hint of any direction to him to warp off and warp back to me, our Tengu ‘buddy’ decides to plop down right next to our rescuee… The only word I was able to frankly type in the chat was “bail” before the Tengu began to lock and burn towards me. I have no idea how I was able to warp off before he was able to scram me as my reaction time was dulled due to an initial stage of shock whilst trying to communicate to our friend, but somehow either thanks to latency or my 1.5 second align time I was able pull out just as he got a yellow box.
I was hoping the pod would follow suit but for whatever reason, he didn’t warp. So I unintentionally leave him on grid with the Tengu while I bounced to a random planet. Adrenaline finally kicks in as I cloak up during warp, and quickly make a safe. I bounced back to one of the pings I made above the hole, to check and see if he’s still on grid. Much to my dismay he is still on grid and still very much making a run for splash range on the hole.
I began to weigh my options and seriously contemplated for the first time in my career how I would take on a T3 cruiser in my nano fit Astero. Which if you’ve already guessed, the options are essentially zero. My plan was however, to launch ECM drones at the Tengu and pray to Bob that one of them lands a jam while I attempted to bump him away. Fortunately for me though I didn’t have to execute this suicidal plan, as I noticed that the Tengu began to slowly creep towards me. That’s when I realized somewhere along the line I had decloaked. I am assuming it was the customs office but I am honestly unsure as I wasn’t paying very close attention, I obviously had a lot of other things on my mind at the time. So I was essentially sitting up at this ping completely decloaked 160km away, just sitting there doing nothing. The Tengu continued to slow boat towards me for a bit before turning around and firing its prop mod towards the capsule, scramming and webbing it in the process. He didn’t shoot the pod, he only held in place as if to taunt me directly.
The gauntlet was thrown and the stage was set, I mentally prepared myself momentarily before I heard the sound effect of the pod splashing into the wormhole. All of that build up to our seemingly inevitable climax suddenly disappeared in an instant, filling the void with the space equivalent of an awkward silence. The Tengu and I just kind of sat there, before he decided to shamefully warp off. I decided at that point it was best to just scoot on through the hole and into high sec and the rest is history.
Back on the other side of the hole, I (and Igaze, who I don’t know is there) wait for word on the outcome of the confrontation. Finally Daniel says “I made it!”, so I warp to the High Sec exit at zero. I no longer care about getting decloaked, I just need to provide him a perfect warp-in point as soon as I land. The pod arrives, and splashes into High Sec, followed closely by me and Igaze, and we begin our post-rescue celebration (unfortunately without fireworks – CCP Please add a high slot to the Astero just for festival launchers!). Bang thankfully arrives in one piece a little bit later. Our pilot thanks us for the rescue and we chat for a few minutes about wormhole life before going our separate ways, praising Bob that we all miraculously made it both into the system and out of it!
Editor’s Note Out of Character (OOC): This is the second in our series called Signaleers. This one has the twist of being in character. 🙂 Hope you enjoy, please let us know.
07.07.yc121 – Zoohen III, Theology Council Tribunal Station, Atrium
For this interview, Katia choose the atrium as it offered the largest, most open area on the station with a view of space that nearly mimicked a ship’s view. Well in all honesty not really, but at least it offered some comfort. She was looking forward to meeting her fellow Signaleer having started up her interview series again, this time focused on Signal Cartel explorers. It seemed the best way for her to reintegrate herself with her fellow corp mates and she was much more comfortable in a one on one setting rather than large social gatherings.
Recognizing him from his holopic, Katia waved, smiled, and offered Meroveus Deveran a seat. After exchanging pleasantries and taking some time of breaking the ice, catching up on corporate and personal activities, Katia moved the conversation towards the interview.
“So tell me, why did you become a capsuleer?”
Becoming a capsuleer runs in the family. My Bio-Father was a Capsuleer for the Amarr Navy and saw some action. Told me there was nothing like it. He’s still there commanding an Abaddon, I believe. And, though New Eden is dangerous, it’s exhilarating in a way that nothing else can be.
“What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else?”
Initially I followed in the family footsteps, as it were. But there was always something that would niggle away at me, and that was just how much was unknown out there. So, eventually, I resigned from the Navy and moved on. For a while, I ran with a corporation that was pretty freewheeling in nature, taking contracts from whichever company needed extra oomph. Then I was contacted by Sister Alitura of the Sisters of Eve. You’ve no doubt heard of them. Through a series of incredibly twisted events, I ended up being an important part of what I call ‘The Dagan Incident’. And that led me to a keen interest in what parties like the Sisters and the SoCT (Society of Conscious Thought) were REALLY up to.
“What attracted you to explore New Eden? Do you have a goal, have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards it?”
Knowing the unknown is knowing the deeper darker parts of the Self. Finding out that for a good part of my career, I had only seen the tiniest splinter of the Abyss spurred me on to find out more, even at the cost of my life. Of course, that statement takes on different meaning when you are a capsuleer, with a conceivably infinite amount of lives. Finding that common thread that links the Drones, Triglavians, Sleepers, Jovians, and us is something I am still doing.
“What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring?”
My current favourite would be ‘Mind Games’. She’s an Astero Class frigate, given to me by the Sisters for continued valued service. She’s from their Archaeology department, and has the colours to match. The Sisters are good people, and worth working for. And delving into ancient ruins in search of answers suits both me and the Sisters, so ‘Two Pods with one Smartbomb’, as they say!
Katia smiled at that last statement, then continued, “During your travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that has surprised you?”
I have been fortunate enough to make it to the EVE Gate. Is that what they call it? Staring at it is to stare at the very question of Creation. Did we come from the other Side? If so, what was it like? Were our ancestors pioneers, or refugees? And if we did not, in fact, come through this Gate, where DID we come from and what does the Gate truly mean? I find it no coincidence, at least in my mind, that you will find votives in memory of those who have taken the Final Jump in and around that system.
“What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?”
Well, I do find it amusing that you are asking that question! For if it’s one thing that I would say, it is that which your incredible journey underlines: NEVER GIVE UP, NO MATTER THE ODDS. I have found myself in some tight spots, but throwing my hands in the air and saying ‘Whatever, time for my next body.’ just was not an option for me. And I have come out of more than a few situations by gritting the teeth and digging in.
Katia blushed, “Well, I share your enthusiasm, never give up indeed! One last question then, do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?”
If I could find my darned holo-album, I’d be more than happy to share some of the things I’ve taken snaps of. Alas, I think it was misplaced when we moved from my old ship to Mind Games…
With that, Katia rose and offered her hand, “Thanks so much for taking time out to visit with me today. I really enjoyed the interview, and glad for the opportunity to get to know my fellow Signaleers better. Fly clever.”
May 01, YC121: A few days prior to joining Signal Cartel.
Void Raven glanced at the route navigation display in her Astero. She was in Naamo with only one jump remaining to her destination. Her heartbeat quickened with anticipation. She had finally found some time to make the trip to Saisio and visit the Katia Sae monument. When she had first learnt of Katia Sae’s remarkable achievement to visit every single system in known space and Anoikis and without losing a single ship, it had immediately and forever altered her world in a most fundamental and profound way. And shortly thereafter, when she had read about the monument newly anchored in Saisio by the Achura Stargazers Society in association with Signal Cartel, to commemorate this triumph of the human spirit, she instantly knew that she would have to visit it to pay her respects. Void had chosen to make the trip to Saisio in an Astero in homage to the same ship that Katia Sae had used in her endeavor. While enroute, she absently thought about how it might have been preferable to have not come across any photographs of the statue prior to her trip as she felt that it might lessen the impact of seeing it in person for the first time. But Void need not have been worried, as she was soon to discover.
The Astero exited its intra-system warp in Naamo and began slowing down as it approached the Saisio gate for the final jump. Void braced for the jump. Even though she was in her protective capsule filled with hydrostatic fluid – also known as “pod goo” – that served to significantly reduce, but not eliminate, the physical impact and stresses of space travel on the human body and she had made many gate jumps in the past, she still felt oppressively claustrophobic and anxious in the warp tunnel. Void was always queasy and disoriented with labored breathing for several seconds after completing inter-system jumps, which made the automatic gate cloak on the exit side of a jump all the more valuable to her. At last she was in Saisio. The monument was off the Abagawa gate and so she aligned to it and set warp to 50km.
Upon landing at the gate, she quickly and excitedly looked around to see where the statue was, somehow missing it the first time. But then she saw it. Her heart skipped a beat and were she not in a pod filled with “goo”, the sight would have taken her breath away and she would have instinctively raised a hand to cover a mouth open in awe. Burnished bronze in color, clearly huge in scale even from this distance and glowing with reflected light from the M0 Orange Radiant sun in Saisio, it was…in a word…resplendent. The translucent plinth on which it was raised incorporated banks of powerful spotlights around the outside perimeter that shone both upwards to illuminate the statue and downward to give the appearance that it was being supported on a beam of light from the depths. Void felt that the statue perfectly captured the vast scope of Katia Sae’s achievement and the dedication and perseverance that she and her fellow signaleers exhibited to see it through to successful conclusion. She now approached the statue very slowly, gingerly guiding her Astero closer to inspect the details.
“Careful now, Void.”, she thought, “The last thing you want to do is crash into the monument and leave a mark, or worse, break off an arm…that would be nothing short of devastating. You know how careless you are at times and how clumsy you can be at others.”, she cautioned herself as thoughts of her numerous tripping incidents on the old rug back in her apartment came to mind. Yes…she should get around to replacing that rug.
The pose and attire of Katia Sae were both elegant and sophisticated. One foot was placed at an angle in front of the other, the right arm hung loosely down the side of the body while the left was upraised and slightly bent at both elbow and wrist in a shape, from Void’s viewpoint, somewhat reminiscent of a sweeping ‘S’ with a long tail. The left hand, with upturned palm, was higher in elevation than the head. Floating above the palm was a beautiful blue-white star. As she cautiously maneuvered around the statue, between it and the sun, her Astero cast a shadow on it and as she kept moving, the shadow distorted and rippled in keeping with the curves of the statue and folds in the clothing. It was all rather surreal.
Void guided her Astero toward the head and palm to take a closer look. The star had three planets and a ghostly, ethereal apparition of Katia Sae’s Astero in orbit around it. While the planets were fixed in location, the Astero was not, and it ever so slowly moved purposefully in its orbit, solitary and forever. She considered the star. Although it was but a single star, it represented so much more in that it embodied all the suns in each of the 7,805 individual systems that Katia Sae had visited over a nine-year span.
“That’s a lot of significance for one small star to carry.”, Void thought in admiration. “And is the reason it shines so brightly.”
She turned her Astero around to look at the face and brought it to a stop. Katia’s face, which seemed vaguely enigmatic to Void, was looking up at the star in the palm of her hand and also perhaps beyond it as if to convey that she might be thinking of what was to come next. But what could that be? What does someone do after they have been everywhere and seen everything? How does one resolve the tension that must exist when the lust to wander is still there, but the space in which to do so, is not? Nonetheless, there was a silent, unassuming confidence in that gaze toward the future, thought Void. She looked deep into the eyes and in her mind, Void stood to attention, saluted and thought “Katia, you justifiably stand tall among the giants in the history of New Eden.”
She remained there for a little while longer quietly absorbing the setting. It was moments like these that imparted much-needed, cathartic balance to an otherwise harsh, grim and dangerous New Eden.
“Someone ought to write a poem about this.”, she reflected.
With that, the solemn, respectful part of her visit came to an end and it was now time for the fun part. She was going to celebrate with, what else, but fireworks. After all, that’s how they did it in Signal Cartel so she should do the same, she reasoned. She was excited and eager to see the spectacle she was about to unleash. The festival launcher was loaded and ready and she gave the command to launch. Nothing. “What? Launch fireworks.” she gave the order again. Again nothing. “Are they duds, perhaps?” she wondered. And then a realization; “Oh…I see. Even though they are fireworks I still need to lock a target to be able to launch them. They are not like regular fireworks.” How in Anoikis had she missed that little nuance during capsuleer school? Likely it had been discussed at one of the several early morning classes at which she had arrived late as a consequence of partying a little bit too long the night before – she was Gallente after all, and Gallenteans were known for their partying, among other hedonistic interests. Looking around for objects to target she didn’t see that many – there was the statue, the stargate and the CONCORD ships patrolling in its vicinity. Even though she was only launching fireworks, the latter two, as targets, seemed to her no better than tempting fate. So that of course left the statue.
“I don’t know how appropriate it is to shoot fireworks at the statue as opposed to around it.” she pondered. But it was the only target available and she did want to launch some fireworks, so…”Be bold, Void.”, she thought.
Void locked the statue and launched her fireworks. The result was beautiful and wondrous; the fireworks were sweeping and flying through space all around her. A big smile came to her face. And then disappeared as quickly as it had arrived; her reverie ending as suddenly as it had begun. A sinking feeling crept through her body and settled in the pit of her stomach. She looked with dismay at the statue. There was a large, obvious black blemish where the fireworks had struck it. “No, no, no, no, no! What have I done?” she thought mortified. Now, Void had no problem with the color black. She liked black – it was her favorite color; technically it was an absence of light and color she knew, but nonetheless she thought of it as a color. Fashion-wise black went pretty much with anything, which made dressing in the morning easier. Her hair was jet-black. Her name, Void Raven, had connotations to black. Her mother’s name – Black Raven – even more so. That last thought though, about her mother, caused some inner demons to start roiling but she expertly shut them down. She didn’t have time for that right now. So, it wasn’t the color that caused her consternation, it was the fact that despite her best intentions she had still managed to vandalize the monument.
“Brilliant. Just brilliant.”, she reprimanded herself.
She looked away; she couldn’t look at the statue that she had just defaced. She had visions of having to contact Katia Sae, the Achura Stargazers Society, Signal Cartel and perhaps even CONCORD and explain what she had done, convey her sincere apologies and offer to pay restitution for the restoration of the statue. Would she even be able to afford that? This was analogous to that other time, when, in trying to dock her Imicus, she hadn’t been paying attention and had accidentally bumped into and scratched the new, shiny Proteus moving alongside her. She had immediately contacted the owner and offered to pay for repairs, but fortunately he had been very nice about the whole incident and had said not to worry.
“These new scratches – they look just like extra killmarks so I think I might leave them as is.”, he said with a wink and a smile. The current situation was of course much larger in scope and distress.
“What am I going to do? How am I going to recover from this one?”, she asked herself, a sense of helplessness pervading her mind.
As these thoughts were swirling around, Void found the fortitude to look at the statue again. She stared at it and then blinked a few times; her face painted with confusion…the black blemish was shrinking of its own accord! Somehow, the residue from the fireworks was dissipating off the surface of the statue. Deep feelings of relief and joy swept over her. She waited until the blemish had entirely disappeared, to satisfy herself that there was no lingering damage to the monument. Thus satisfied, she gleefully expended her entire remaining inventory of fireworks with the uninhibited, joyous abandon of a young child and it was a sight to behold. From somewhere, a thought that perhaps she should apply to join Signal Cartel found its way into Void’s mind.