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
“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.