It seems by the time anyone updates their tutorial videos for how to extract EVE Online assets from the game using tools like TriExporter, CCP goes and changes how it’s done!
Nevertheless, we move forward! Continue reading
It seems by the time anyone updates their tutorial videos for how to extract EVE Online assets from the game using tools like TriExporter, CCP goes and changes how it’s done!
Nevertheless, we move forward! Continue reading
Engine trails are among many of the artistic staples that have come to be known as part of the style of Eve Online. Beautiful streaming trails of energy have mesmerized us for nearly a decade. This tutorial will cover off on the most commonly used approach to creating engine trails in Cinema 4D r13, as well as a technique using the Turbulence FD plugin by Jawset Computing. Continue reading
Seems it always comes back to you, Renegade, I thought to myself. I ran my hand over her sleek hull, having pulled her from storage after so much disuse. There were few things I enjoyed more than frigate flying – women, beer, a good brawl; that’s about it. And when it came to frigates, the Republic Fleet Firetail had always been one of the sexiest, at least to me. Continue reading
One of the most challenging aspects of 3D art is materials – from clean to grunge to neon and everything in between, it’s always a challenge getting the most believable and appropriate materials created for your work. While this tutorial doesn’t hope to cover all aspects of materials, it will try to cover all the basics provided to us by CCP Games within the game of Eve Online.
DIFFICULTY:EASY Continue reading
It was last June that we first took an indepth look at the Republic Fleet Firetail in THIS post, and a lot has changed since then: fewer high slots, higher damage bonus, projectile falloff bonuses, etc. I receive a growing number of requests from pilots to explain the change in role, proper usage, and optimal fitting since all the changes to this beloved ship.
The Firetail is modeled off a fighter frigate known as the Shamrock, a design used by a small, now-extinct pirate faction known as Lazari Dromitus. The blueprint found its way into the hands of Matari military forces after a raid on Lazari Dromitus’s headquarters succeeded in killing its leader, thus beheading the organization and scattering its remnants to the four winds. It has since been improved upon and upgraded, and the Firetail is now a mainstay in most Republic Fleet patrols.
Minmatar Frigate Skill Bonus: 20% bonus to Small Projectile Turret damage and 7.5% bonus to Small Projectile Turret tracking speed per level
The Firetail has always been a kiting ship in my opinion. It lacks the tank of the Rifter, which can get in close and sustain a good active or passive stance against most enemies. It also lacks the speed, drone capacity and firepower of the Dramiel, which has become a vicious faction frigate post Dominion. To be 100% honest, despite my love for the Firetail, the Dramiel is the faction frigate of choice in all respects.
However, there is still a use for the Republic Fleet Firetail beyond being a symbol of the Republic Fleet. It’s been an invaluable ship to me in the war, great for probing systems for military complexes, excellent against most other frigates and destroyers (though an arty fit Thrasher will tear you a new one), and generally still one of the sexiest ships ingame (though once again, I think I prefer the Dramiel nowadays).
I’m a firm believer of training up your support skills before training to fly a new ship. There is a difference between piloting a ship, and piloting a ship with proficiency. With faction frigates, you want to be skilled for the amount of isk you’re spending on the bloody thing.
That’s quite the list, but still minimized from the first time we looked at this ship together. I’m a firm believer in training to level 5 when the bonus is justified, and there are additional supplemental skills that will be of use to you, depending on your fit.
Now here is where things become a little depressing for our beautiful Firetail that we have such fondness of. Using EFT (which I know isn’t always reflective of ingame performance), I did up what I consider to be a decent Firetail fitting. I then compared it against my Dramiel fit, and a couple of my Rifter fits, and came to the sad understanding of why I haven’t undocked any of my Firetail frigates in months. They are simply without advantage anymore.
By no means is this the definitive fit of the Firetail. In fact, I’m hoping some others will comment and criticize, perhaps rekindling my one time passion for the Firetail.
Make no mistake, I still think the Republic Fleet Firetail is a damn sexy ship; I just don’t see anymore what it can do that a Rifter can’t, and for much cheaper.
FIT # 2 BASED ON USER COMMENTS
[Republic Fleet Firetail, Renegade]
Republic Fleet Gyrostabilizer
Republic Fleet Gyrostabilizer
Damage Control II
1MN MicroWarpdrive II
Pithi C-Type Small Shield Booster
Republic Fleet Warp Disruptor
[empty med slot]
250mm Light ‘Scout’ Artillery I, Republic Fleet Fusion S
250mm Light ‘Scout’ Artillery I, Republic Fleet Fusion S
‘Arbalest’ Standard Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Piranha Light Missile
Small Projectile Burst Aerator I
Small Auxiliary Thrusters I
Small Core Defence Field Extender I
This still leaves an empty mid slot, but I cannot squeeze anything more in! As mentioned previously, I have all level 5 skills for this particular ship.
I had the “privilege” this morning of addressing the Republic Civilian Defence Force, or CDF for short. Given my rank and highly public profile, in addition to my well known position on maintaining my clone’s physique manually, I was a natural choice. I accepted my duty without question, and made my way to the surface of Pator III.
The Republic had decided to step up voluntary enlistment before initiating a mandatory draft in an effort to continue the war effort against the Amarr. Given their inability to provide funding for the losses of the many capsuleers fighting on their behalf, the Senate had voted almost unanimously to enlist the aid of the common people. While I personally believed the mantle should fall to every healthy Matari to fight for their freedom, I was also pragmatic and understood that not all were equipped mentally or physically for the hardships of the soldier’s life.
In my mind’s eye, I had an ideal vision of what the Brutor of old looked like: physically dominating, near perfect specimens of strength and power. We were, and still are, a fiercely tribal people, etching out a hard existence in a universe seemingly indifferent to the injustices we suffered daily at the hands of the Amarr. Every step forward was hard earned, and as our technology grew, so did our appetite for physical perfection. That was my ideal vision.
Instead, what was evidenced before me by the men and women of the CDF was one of complacency and laziness. Our ancestors would’ve been ashamed at the soft assortment of flesh candies seated before me. Not a one would survive the capsuleer training program, and it made me question not only the decision to enlist these couch potato, weekend warriors, but also the standards by which these “soldiers” were held subject to.
I gave my speech, motivating them to yells, whoops and cheers, taking my leave as soon as possible; the smell of fat and sweat inducing a feeling of claustrophobia in me; something a pod jockey never experienced.
On the shuttle back to Dal, I had plenty of time to think about a great many things; the direction of my life, the war effort, Myxnee, but the foremost thought in my mind was how far we had fallen as a people from the heights we once achieved. Sure, we had advanced as a society and were one of the strongest of the Empires in New Eden, but at what cost? If the CDF was indicative of the general populace, we had become soft. Should the frontlines fail, the Amarr would find no resistance to enslavement of our people. The cynical side of me wondered if they would even want what they would find, but of course they would, a body was a body, and those that couldn’t do, would die.
I knew many capsuleers who rarely left their pods, and even fewer that engaged in regular physical activity. We relied on our wills and minds so completely in our roles that we often neglected our own health and well being.
That had to stop.
It’s a new year and the time for excuses had ended. It’s time to get in shape, and we’re going to do this together. Regardless of your current level of physical health, we’re going to start doing something, anything, to improve ourselves.
Using the calculator HERE, find out your BMR, or the number of calories per day you should be consuming to promote good physical health. Be honest with yourself. At the end of the day, you’re going to be your own worst critic.
If you have an iTouch/iPhone, download the ONE HUNDRED PUSHUPS application. Well formed pushups will work the following muscle groups:
As you can see, pushups are a very effective strength building exercise for both men and women. No “woman pushups” in this program.
If you don’t have the ability to download this app, you can substitute the following routine 3x per week, though it will not be as effective:
Again, if you have iTouch/iPhone, the COUCH TO 5K app is incredible. It gives audio cues for when you should switch from walk/jog/run, and is a very good, progressive program for improving your cardiovascular health while increasing core strength and losing weight. If you don’t have an iTouch/iPhone, you can still follow along on this program HERE.
It might seem daunting to buy healthy groceries, and you may have even heard that eating healthy is far more expensive than eating junk. Follow these guidelines for shopping, and you will be surprised at how well your body responds:
With a little effort and some planning you can have a healthy grocery list and still be on a budget.
So you’re exercising, you’re eating healthy, but you’re still not seeing the results you want? Chances are, you’re eating too much! Might make sense once you hear it, but even when eating healthy, you can still overdo it.
Four general rules of thumb:
As I said, always expend more than you consume. If you have an iTouch/iPhone, one of the best apps for tracking your daily calorie count is the Calorie Tracker by Live Strong.com. With a full online database of foods and exercises, you’ll be sorely pressed to not find what you need with this app. If you don’t have an iTouch/iPhone, their WEBSITE offers a great online program as well.
You can lie to me, you can lie to friends, but despite what you think, you can’t lie to yourself. Healthy living promotes overall wellness emotionally, mentally, sexually and physically. The first step to better self-image is setting goals for yourself, getting up off your ass to do something about it, then feeling good at the accomplishment. This is one of those things in life where it’s ok to be selfish. Give this to yourself. You deserve it.
That’s it for today. I look forward to seeing how many of you are willing to pledge yourselves to better health in the comments section below. If you do, I promise you I will be with you every step of the way, and make myself available for questions and guidance when possible.
NEW YEAR’S DAY
“… I repeat, we require reinforcements… TLF Command ship … Sleipnir … Matar Colonel … AARRGGHH!!”
That was the last transmission the Angel Cartel battleship captain had been able to make. Ordinarily, we didn’t bother helping the other pirate factions; life in New Eden was harsh enough without inviting trouble, but the prospect of taking down a Matar Colonel of the Tribal Liberation Force in Amamake was hard to resist. Of course, the whole thing could’ve been a setup, as every respectable pirate changed his frequencies weekly, and nobody spent long in the hellhole that was Amamake.
“Whadda ya think, Eddie?” I asked, not wanting to make the decision myself, not that I could. The Wrath of Fenris had proven to be a good fit for me given my past, but I still didn’t want to push my luck and piss off the bosses. I worked hard to gain honour among these brothers, but trust was a fickle commodity at best; you could spend years earning it, then lose it all with one bad decision.
“I dunno, Loren.” Eddie replied, a cautious tone to his voice. “Think you can scan him down?” The Wrath of Fenris made their home elsewhere, but Amamake was a common stomping ground for us. There was always something going down in Amamake.
I took that as a personal challenge. My scanning skills were unmatched in our regular fleet. “You’d better be ready to warp in when I tackle this sunuvabitch.”
The TLF had been a pain in all of our asses with their anti-pirate campaign, led by that cock sure Brutor faggot Roc Wieler. And while we managed to still turn a good profit, we had to constantly look over our shoulders more than ever before. What I wouldn’t have given to have five minutes alone with him.
“Oh, we’ll all be ready.” Eddie replied, the fleet commander for our current roaming gang of 37 ships. We were more of a blob really, but we didn’t care. Might made right. We didn’t get bothered much by the Amarr or the Minmatar, and if you really had a force that could match us, you’d be in for one helluva fight, that was for certain.
It only took me a few minutes to scan down the Sleipnir, and once I had him, I let the rest of the fleet know. “Ready to me, I’m warping in now.” With that, I set myself into motion.
The adrenaline always pumped through my veins, pod pilot or not, when warping in to tackle an unsuspecting target. There were so many variables involved; it could go horribly wrong so many ways.
I eased out of warp right on top of … Matar Colonel Roc Wieler! I couldn’t believe my good stroke of fortune! I immediately started my slow target lock, pushing forward to close the range between myself and his artillery cannons.
He launched his Valkyrie II drones quickly, and began slowly aligning on an escape vector. His first volley nearly tore my shields away, but they held, and I was in scram range. I hoped I wasn’t too late.
The scramble held. I had Matar Colonel Roc Wieler in my sights. His drones quickly pulled me out of my star gazing, and I immediately flagged the fleet. “Warp to me! Warp to me! I got point!”
Seconds later, I relaxed, as the entire fleet arrived. All 37 of us angled for a shot against the famed Roc Wieler. Unfortunately, even with an impressive shield booster, his Sleipnir, the Onslaught, collapsed quickly, resulting in a killmail for only nine of us.
We tried to lock his pod, but the good Colonel had kept his wits about him, and managed to escape from us … this time.
I had my computer do a rundown of the ship fit and amount of isk lost, and was surprised to see the number keep rising until it finally settled at 1.6 billion isk. What the hell had he fit on that ship?!?
Some of the fleet followed possible trajectories, hoping to catch him in his pod, but I knew they would fail. Others stayed behind to loot the wreck, myself included.
We divided the loot as we always did, but I have to admit that I kept a little something for myself. In the midst of the wreckage, floating through space, was a scrap of flimsiplast. I scooped it up, laughing at the vanity of the title “Rocalicious Calendar”. Only the month of January had remained intact, but I decided to keep it, more as a joke with myself than anything, of how celebrities were truly overrated.
Happy New Year, Colonel Wieler! Thanks for flying overpriced garbage.
It had been days since I had dropped off the Book of St. Arzad to Hiva Shesha. All she had said was:
After all of the trials and tribulations, we finally have the truth at our fingertips. Now it’s time to dig in and find out what the Wildfire Khumaak is all about.
I thought I was going to wear grooves into the floor I had been pacing my temporary quarters so much. I had opted to stay local, to be there when Hiva’s research was completed, but as I had learned, you couldn’t rush a historian; they all had the time in the world.
I was pulled from a sound sleep at 4AM on my NeoCom. Hiva was on the other end. She looked worn down, tired, but more than that, she looked older, deeply troubled. Without hesitation I asked her what was wrong:
I have devoted much of my life to history of all sorts, from its unflappable truths to its infallible lies to the nuanced information systems found throughout the chronicles, artifacts, disputed ruins, and subjective quagmires. Despite what people think, history is a shapeless void of nonsense, akin to space’s vacuum or the cold, thoughtless smattering of stars that we call home. There is no meaning besides what we make of it; we do not know truth outside of the lenses we place over this shapeless void, the teeming nothingness, the endless morass of information.
I was fully awake and sobered emotionally by her words. I could sense she was at a personal crossroads, and I would need to listen carefully if I was to be of any use as her chosen confidante.
This book troubles me. I do not know what to make of it, nor do I know how to proceed. If what this book says is true, and the chances are good that at least some of it is, then the Starkmanir did not begin their rebellion out of a thirst for independence, but rather out of loyalty to their Holder, a man known to them as St. Arzad. The Wildfire Khumaak, a symbol he stole from them, is not an enduring relic of independence, nor is it a glowing tribute to the spirit of the Matari people. Rather, it is an artifact devoted to the memory of the Starkmanir captivity, an heirloom of oppression, but also an endearing homage to a fallen captor.
Though a man of strong opinions, I held my tongue. Now was only the time to nod and continue listening.
In other words, the Wildfire Khumaak subverts the defiance of my people.
That is, of course, if this is true. All we have is the relic and this book. The story of St. Arzad is practically hidden or buried in the Amarr history: I can’t find a trace of it. For all we know, this is apocryphal heresy, a rash account of history, a fever dream of some demented Starkmanir, or an outright hoax.
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I’m torn on what to do, and thus I will put the choice in your hands. I don’t want the responsibility for what happens to this text. There are two places we can take it: Return it to the Defiants and reunite it with the Wildfire Khumaak, or donate it to a Gallente historian I know. The former option gives the book back its people, though I don’t know how they’ll approach the text (or even if they’ll release it to the general public, which to me seems a shame). The latter will keep the book safe and make it available for the greater good. Even though it’s a troubling account, it’s still history, and it stills needs to be known.
The choice is in your hands.
It was like she had parked a cruiser on my chest. I felt a tightness I had never experienced, and my hand instinctively grasped. Though physically fine, I felt as though I were having a heart attack, something unheard of for a capsuleer.
My posture broke, my shoulders sank, and my eyes worked furiously, looking this way and that as I analyzed the problem, trying to factor in the countless repercussions of either decision, and failing.
As I said, I leave the decision in your hands. This book is a remnant of the Minmatar people, and thus it probably belongs with my brethren. If you feel the same way, take the Book of St. Arzad back to Oggur Marendei, the Defiant member you spoke with earlier. They have the Wildfire Khumaak, and they should have this book as well.
Like I said, this book is unsettling for me, not as a historian, but as a proud member of the Minmatar Republic. The resistance our people endured for the past years is very important to me, and our ultimate defiance of the Amarr people is crucial to our cultural identity. This book does not show our defiance in a positive light, or at least muddies the motivations behind it.
This text belongs with our people. I cannot attest to how they will handle it, nor can I say for certain that they will bury it. But the right thing to do is to give it to them and not to let any outsiders take possession of it. This pains me as a historian, but it feels right as a Minmatar.
The truth is not easy, nor is it absolute. We base our understanding on our perspectives, the ideas we wish to accept, and the data we acknowledge as correct. Everything else is information clutter obscuring our understanding of the world around us.
My head swam, vertigo settling in. She made good points, and even though she believed it to be the right thing to do, did I? The decisions was mine alone to make.
I started to question what others might do in my position, friends and enemies alike, grasping for someone else to make this decision.
To make things even more of a dilemma, Hiva offered me a cargo of ten experimental RSS Enhance Probes, with 4x the flight time of the Sisters probes I often employed.
I needed more information.I asked Hiva about the Gallente historian.
Posmon Aubenard is a friend of mine, a Gallente historian working with the University of Caille. He’s a trusted academic, an astute scholar, and a respected member of the university’s staff. If you take this book to him, I know that he will preserve it and keep it safe, possibly even put the book in the proper historical light with a best-selling book of his own in a few years. That might not sit well with our Minmatar brethern, but at least we won’t lose the truth, or whatever part of the truth this book represents. The Defiants can keep the Wildfire Khumaak – although I’m sure Posmon would love to get his hands on it – but it’s just an empty symbol without the book.
Time stretched endlessly, though only a few seconds passed. I was silent, biting my lip, not sure which way to decide. I completely understood why Hiva passed this off onto me. It was a huge responsibility to bear. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be the one to make the decision, yet I was the one who had to make it, in retrospect.
When we are quiet, when we stop thinking, when we are completely raw and truthful with ourselves, I believed that we can hear a gentle voice of inner truth. Each of us possesses it. Each of us can choose right or wrong.
It’s our own life experiences that have tainted this voice, that have driven down in silence to the point where we can’t even recognize its sound anymore. It’s our own baggage that damages us. We are the only ones that can control how we react to things, how long we let things affect us. We control our tomorrows.
I made my choice.
I won’t forget this.
That was all Hiva said as I headed for the Onslaught.
I had showered off since docking, and now was walking down the main access ramp to my ship. I held a satisfied smile on my face, knowing I made the right decisions. Under my warm, wrapped in leather, was the Book of St. Arzad.
I extended my right arm, warmly shaking hands with Dr. Posmon Aubenard of Caille University.
Thank you for giving me this book. I will sure it comes to no harm. This is not an easy history to swallow, and I’m not sure how factual its statements are. But it is better to tackle the truth than to bury it. Many Matari will be upset when this book is revealed to the public. I don’t know how or when that revelation will come about; all I know is that it must. Thank you for your help. Good luck.
I was shuffled off to an aide, and enjoyed a fine feast that evening at the University. As the night hours wound down, I was quartered in generous accommodations, and sent a comm to Hiva, wondering how she was holding up.
I think we did the right thing. Though I’m deeply troubled by this situation, as a historian, I must confront it. Thank you for all your efforts in this investigation, Roc. Though some of our people may be upset with you, the Matari people as a whole owe you their gratitude. Good luck in the future, my brave pilot.
She had said all that had needed saying I supposed, and again, I was content with that. It was the last time I would ever see Hiva Shesha, but I would not soon forget the time we had spent together, nor the way my path was altered from our shared experiences in this adventure.
In the short time I had known Hiva, I had come to realize she was very passionate about her vocation.
I’ve been a scholar and a historian for many years now, so I know how to handle ancient relics. I will confess, though, that I was about to cut right into the middle of the Blood Obsidian Orb to see what was inside. Yes, I was getting rather desperate for answers. Luckily, the tablet you uncovered was more than just mystical mumbo-jumbo and flowery metaphors. Rather, it was practically an instruction manual to open the orb. Spirits be praised!
I cringed a little. How could someone so blatantly immoral and sexual be so fervent about spirituality?
I found this datacore inside the orb. According to the tablet, there’s a church in this area called the Wildfire Life Chapel. Inside the chapel is something called the Book of St. Arzad. I think what was what you came across in those ruins: parts of this book.
I didn’t show my shock through the vidscreen. I should’ve known she had scanned my ship. And yet, she hadn’t said anything about me not handing over the pages from that book.
My, from the looks of it, this is heavy stuff. I haven’t had the chance to piece it all together yet, but I have a feeling that this book goes beyond a simple relic like the Wildfire Khumaak and into much bigger territory.
This book must be recovered. I’m almost certain that it’s in the chapel. Put the datacore in that chapel and see what comes of it. It’s our only hope. See what happens.
I wasn’t reassured, but my own excitement level at possibly unlocking the mystery of the Wildfire Khumaak pushed me forward.
I had the datacore quickly loaded into my ship. This datacore, found inside the Blood Obsidian Orb, was supposed to reveal the location of the lost Book of St. Arzad.
I made haste to the church, anxious to get the datacore inserted into the chapel.
I sent out a pre-programmed Valkryie II to insert the datacore, maintaining a safe distance in case things went sour as they inevitably did.
A few ancient mechanisms fired, and container slid out from the side of the chapel. A cursory scan from the Onslaught revealed it contained an old book, and my heart quickened; I had found the lost Book of St. Arzad!
A Tribal Issue Tempest warped in nearly on top of me, managing to insert itself between the Onslaught and the Chruch of St. Arzad. Before I could react, my Valkryie was destroyed, and Aura’s scan showed the book was gone from the chapel.
The nameless villain in all of this finally revealed himself.
Karkoti Rend: Even though the RSS took me off the project, I continued my search for this, the Book of St. Arzad. The RSS have been after this document for a long time now, as well as the Angel Cartel. Luckily, the Angels pay better. I wouldn’t follow me, if I were you. Not unless you want this priceless relic to be destroyed.
I hesitated too long before engaging a lock, and the battleship warped away at the same time as Karkoti’s Cartel allies warped in. Fifteen frigates swarmed towards me, two of them webbing me, reducing my thrust to 40 m/s. Three battleships burned for distance, hitting the Onslaught with salvo after salvo.
I commed Hiva as I engaged the frigates, popping them one after another, my artillery overheated, my patience at an end.
That RSS agent showed up? That’s no good. There’s no telling what he’ll do with the book. You have to catch him and get that book!
“Tell me something I don’t already know!” I snapped back, my ship rocking from another missile salvo.
“Can you give me hand here please? I’m a little pre-occupied!” I yelled over the comm. I realized doing so would more than likely destroy any chance I had of bedding her again, but at the moment, I didn’t care. Besides, there were far more women in the universe I had yet to experience.
The last frigate vanished from my overview as I focused on my attention on the remaining three battleships, my engines revving up to full strength.
We need that book, and that RSS agent has it. This is my worst fear realized: Karkoti Rend was trying to get his hands on the book. The RSS claims that he was working alone, but I don’t know how true that really is.
“Listen, honey, I could care less about the politics of it all right now. We’ll sort that out later. I’m neck deep in battleships and really need less yappy, more results, ok?” I barked at Hiva.
Either way, I’ve tracked down his location to a nearby Angel Cartel base. This compounds the urgency of this mission. I barely trust the RSS as it is, but the Angels are outright scum. Go get the book from there, but make sure it’s safe. The book is of the utmost priority!
That’s all I needed. Hiva had come through for me. I had Aura quickly input the data through the navigational system, disengaged the battleships, and warped off to retrieve the book.
As I left the Church of St. Arzad, Hiva commed me once more:
Karkoti Rend is an agent of the RSS, so he’s bound to have some firepower with him. Be careful.
I was almost touched by her concern. Almost.
If anyone needed sympathy, it would be Karkoti Rend when I was through with him.
Karkoti sent me a private comm while I was in transit, obviously having obtained my frequency and encryption from RSS records.
I had a feeling that you would try to track me down. Not a wise decision. Not only are you outnumbered here, but I have the book. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to it, would you?
He had already made my decision for me. Book be damned, this man was going to die by my hand.
I reverted to normal space to the sound of multiple ship alarms, my overview populating rapidly with enemy vessels locking me.
An energy neutralizer sentry gun was my primary target, followed by the full squad of frigates quickly approaching. I launched my four Valkryie II drones, one a fresh replacement for the loss at the church.
Behind the frigates were three battlecruisers and five battleships. And behind that safety net sat Karkoti Rend.
This was gonna be a helluva fight, I thought to myself, as my shields quickly dropped to half strength from the initial volleys.
I immediately called for backup.
Not a single Tribal Liberation Force pilot was close enough to render assistance, and were engaged in Dal with a massive fleet from the 24th Imperial Crusade. That was something to be dealt with for certain, so I looked elsewhere for aid.
I hit up two corporations I had done work with in the past, hoping to cash in a favour. Again, nobody within 15 jumps.
I was on my own in this. So be it.
I grimaced in my pod as the Onslaught took another massive hit, my shields nearly depleted. I quickly injected an 800 stock capacitor booster, and activated my Gist X-Large Shield Booster, letting it finish three cycles, nearly draining my newly topped off capacitor reserves.
The battle waged back and forth, the frigates quickly falling before the combined might of my artillery cannons and the Valkries, my shields barely holding at 10% strength.
One of my Valkryies exploded, and I noticed too late that Karkoti had his attention focused on them. I redoubled my efforts, a newfound respect for his tactics in mind. He had experience, that was obvious, and he knew that without my drones I wouldn’t be able to sustain enough DPS to take out his fleet.
I recalled the Valkryies.
Right then, I received a comm from one Talus Veran, a name I had never heard before, but was thankful to have remembered since.
Turns out he had gone to great lengths to get in touch with me, citing himself a supporter of my efforts in the war, and for the Republic.
Without trying to be rude, I assessed him of my situation, and implored him for help.
He was 12 jumps out. I felt my resolve weakening until he said he would be there as soon as he could.
I just needed to hold out a little longer.
Two 800 capacitor battery charges remaining. Three battleships and Karkoti Rend still to go.
I wouldn’t even want to know the odds on this.
I launched my drones anew, and watched as Karkoti quickly targetted them, destroying one quickly. That left two.
I was in trouble.
If I was going to go out in a blaze of glory, I was going to take Karkoti with me.
I made him my primary target, and overheated my cannons, directing my remaining drones at his Tribal Issue Tempest.
Again and again I hit him. Again and again he repped his shield nearly as fast as I could deplete it. I used another 800 on the capacitor. One left.
My ammo reserves were well stocked, but I was concerned that I simply wouldn’t be able to break his tank. In my mind, I could see him laughing on the other end, secure in his ship, knowing that his own reinforcements would undoubtedly arrive soon, while I probably had none coming.
Talus Veran commed me; six jumps out. Dammit.
My weapons were in serious jeopardy of being overheated, but still I pushed them, the Tempest’s shields down to 5%. I needed to get past his shields before he cycled his booster so I could ascertain how strong the rest of his ship was.
And then it happened. His shields fell.
My artillery quickly shredded through his armour, despite his best efforts to take evasive maneuvers.
All the while the battleships pounded against the Onslaught, and I used the last 800. It was now or never.
Two of my artillery cannons blew, overheated beyond stress capacity. I quickly cycled them down to regular performance. My afterburner winked out from secondary damage to the systems.
My shields rocked as my transverse velocity fell, and I engaged my booster until my cap was drained.
My two invulnerability fields went offline, as well as my Damage Control II.
The Onslaught was drained. I was thankful that projectile weapons didn’t take any capacitor.
Karkoti hit his shield booster, and I could feel the tide of battle turning against me. My shields dropped, and I couldn’t boost them. My armour began to tear away under the assault of the enemy battleships.
I maintained my focus on the Tempest, stripping away the little shields he had regained, and pushing hard into his armour.
Smoke and fire began to stream from the Tempest, and I knew I was close to victory, though I had not a clue how I would survive against the battleships.
One thing at a time, Roc. Focus.
Karkoti commed me, and surprised me when he didn’t taunt me, but rather imparted remorseful and what I believed to be heartfelt wisdom.
The truth is a weapon and must be wielded with care. That was my greatest mistake. I could handle its power. The Khumaak is just a thing, an empty item; this book holds the true power. Use it wisely, but understand what it is saying. It could change everything.
A single container ejected from the Tempest, before it exploded brilliantly, and I felt a great depth of satisfaction in my gut.
I turned the Onslaught to face the remaining three battleships, knowing my personal celebration would have to wait, but to my shock and trepidation, my weapons lock disengaged.
An immediate sense of panic flooded through me; I thought I was being jammed. But then I watched as the Angel Cartel ships warped away, their employer dead, their guarantee of pay gone.
Apparently, I wasn’t worth it. Smart choice on their part had my ship been fully functional. Still, it was a win, and I was thankful it was over.
I ordered my drones back to their bays, turning my attention back to the cargo container that had been on my overview. Unfortunately, the container was gone.
I felt a surge of panic, but Aura informed me that one of the drones had retrieved an item from the container. It was the Book of St. Arzad.
My mission had been a success. Right then, Talus Veran warped onto the scene. We both laughed as his impeccable timing.
My hands were shaking, it had been a fierce and drawn out battle. I just wanted to be gone from this place.
Talus offered to salvage and loot the scene for me, splitting the haul. Instead, I simply left it to him, as payment for his willingness and quick response.
We spoke briefly before each going our separate ways, and he assured me that he would come by Dal in the near future with an item I may find of great interest.
I thanked him, and headed back to Hiva Shesha.
It was finally over.
“You should know this isn’t how I deal with every Brutor I come across, not that there’s been many.” Hiva said melodiously as her fingers drew on my chest.
“Mmmhmmmm.” I grunted in return, only half awake. It had been a fantastic night with her, Brutor style. I would like to say it was elegant, refined, delicate, loving, but that just wasn’t the way of my people.
It was savage, fierce, sweaty, intense, aggressive, vocal, at times painful, draining, downright exhausting, swinging from vines jungle sex.
Her fingers glided over my chest hair, lightly touching the gouge marks she had left there; one of several places her nails had dug into me rewardingly.
“You’re the best I’ve ever had.” Hiva said dreamily, snuggling in closer to me. I wrapped my arm around her, wishing she would just shut up and let me sleep. I wasn’t in this for the emotional bonding or intimate sharing; I was in it because she was damn hot.
Breathtakingly gorgeous, from head to toe. Just thinking about her feminine muscularity, her body dripping with sweat as her back arched as she rode me hard, moaning and screaming my name, I found myself getting aroused anew, for the fifth time since last night.
I leaned my head over and kissed her beautiful bald head. Her hand ran down my stomach, ever lower, sending shivers up and down my body, until she stopped firmly on my good morning.
When I awoke, Hiva was gone. There was a flashing datasheet on the bedside stand for me.
I’m still going to need some more time with the Blood Obsidian Orb, but I have managed to glean some information from it. My theory is that the orb acts as a protective case for something hidden inside of it. I’d hate to break open a priceless relic of the past, and I’m trying to avoid that situation as much as possible.
I rubbed my eyes, trying to focus before continuing. Even in her writing, I was already she’d just shut up.
Something was written on the orb as well, and I want you to go find what it is. There’s a tablet that goes along with the orb and supposedly tells more about its purpose. The Church of the Obsidian did not have this tablet, as far as I can tell, but I was able to decipher a code on the orb that told of the tablet’s location: the ruins of an old Ammatar church.
It was too early for this. I put down the note and headed for a quick steam shower. After a quick morning workout and some breakfast, I returned to the note, caf in hand.
The church is an ancient place, and a prime spot for archeology. Use that analyzer I gave you for the Church of the Obsidian. I expect there to be a lot of stuff to analyze in those ruins. Bring back whatever you can, but I’m especially looking for the Blood Obsidian Tablet. When you come back, I expect that I can crack this thing wide open… figuratively speaking, of course.
I genuinely smiled. “Crack this thing wide open” resonated within me. I had learned that was a skill Hiva definitely possessed in abundance. I was sure it was a double entendre.
My crew wasn’t entirely pleased to see me, as I had confined them to quarters for the night whilst I was out frolicking about. I didn’t know Tanoo very well, and didn’t want to take any chances. There would be time enough for rest when our task was done.
Once the Onslaught was prepped, we headed towards the coordinates Hiva had provided in the datasheet.
As expected, the Ammatar were waiting for me. I didn’t know if Hiva was working with them or not, and honestly it didn’t matter.
I was in the “post coital must kill something” frame of mind anyway.
Three Armageddons, an Apocalypse, and their support cruisers and frigates were quickly torn to bits by the Onslaught’s hunger for blood.
The single ship that stood out amongst the attacking fleet was the one still shooting at me, an Ammatar Navy Detective. I found it curious that their Navy would send a detective into this foray.
I left him alive for the time being, and began my analysis of the relics. Mark Yaqb had uploaded some training documentation to me after our last adventure together, and since then, I had done some studying and was now confident in my ability to use an analyzer.
The next few hours were one of wonderful, yet troubling, lessons in history, as I slowly found startling documentation about the Starkmanir, painting them in an entirely different light than what we had been taught.
THE EDUCATION OF THE STARKMANIR
A tattered document, presumably of a larger manuscript. The text was written neatly, though much of it was faded. An excerpt from this piece, titled “Chapter 12 – The Education of the Starkmanir” read as follows:
“By the end of his tenth year as Holder on Starkman Prime, Arzad had finished the educational infrastructure for the Starkmanir with the establishment of the final slave college on his continent. The focus of these education centers, aimed at young members of the Starkmanir tribes, was in assimilating the slaves into the greater Amarr society. The focus was primarily in basic business matters, science and technology, and all aspects of the Amarr religion. Attendance at this school was not entirely elective, and slaves were given time to study, though they would often have to make up for lost time in the fields. Despite this, many Starkmanir entered into the slave colleges in order to better their station in life, especially with respect to the high, holy Amarr religion.
The Starkmanir also educated their beloved Holder in kind, as well as other members of the Hamri family. The tradeoff in education was often mutual between the tribal leaders and Arzad. When the slave colleges began teaching business matters, the Holder learned ancient Starkmanir woodworking; astronomy education led the to the Starkmanir martial arts; and the teaching of the Amarr religion initiated Arzad’s own edification of the Starkmanir’s tribal spiritualism.”
Hmmm, I wondered to myself. Nilf Abruskur had sent me to Arzad previously by mistake. I wonder if this was actually a slip up related to the mention of Arzad’s name here? Just how much did Nilf Abruskur know that he wasn’t telling?
The next document was more revealing:
A tattered document, presumably a part of a larger manuscript. The text was written neatly, though much of it was faded. An excerpt from this piece, titled “Chapter 1 – St. Arzad” read as follows:
“And so it was that Arzad Hamri, son of Ezzara Hamri, grandson of Yuzier Hamri, ascended to the title of Holder of the most holy grounds on Starkman Prime. Though only a young man, Arzad held the wisdom of the ages, granted to him by the celestial Maker, and carried with him the burden of creation.
His first act as Holder was to grant a day of celebration to all his slaves, calling the day holy by the Amarr religion. The slaves, members of the Starkmanir tribe, referred to that day as the ‘Hand of Solace’ or ‘Khu-arzad.’ Unlike his father before him, Arzad was instantly loved by his slaves, and his benevolence sowed the seeds of righteous love between Holder and slave.”
My stomach churned with pain wrought memories of my own enslaved past. I remember how easy we were to manipulate; how much enjoyment our Amarrian “masters” would take from breaking us, no matter what the method. Khu-arzad my ass. He was no saint, regardless of what these pages said.
A tattered document, presumably a part of a larger manuscript. The text was written neatly, though much of it was faded. An excerpt from this piece, titled “Chapter 6 – The Benevolent” read as follows:
“The fields and hills of Starkman Prime are harsh and demanding, especially for those working indentured servants tied directly to the land by the holy bonds of slavery. Arzad Hamri understood their plight and pitied them. As a boy, he would often work alongside the Starkmanir in the fields, immersing himself with the tribe to better understand their customs and traditions, much to the chagrin of his father and elders.
As a Holder, Arzad offered many forms of restitution and bereavement for the Starkmanir during their often long and difficult days. Regular rest periods were common during his rule, as well as days of parlay and rest, including high holy days and other Amarr religious festivals, deeming these occasions to be too holy. The Starkmanir loved him for these decisions, often working extra hours when necessary because they respected Arzad and wished for him to be pleased with their efforts.”
Just when a part of thought maybe this Arzad was understanding the outright wrongness of slavery, the document had to end with his slaves going “above and beyond”, just to please him.
I could feel my teeth grinding, but I continued reading the recovered documents.
HAND OF ARZAD
A tattered document, presumably a part of a larger manuscript. The text was written neatly, though much of it was faded. An excerpt from this piece, titled “Chapter 20 – Hand of Arzad” read as follows:
“The Hand of Arzad grew to become the most popular festival on Starkman Prime, so beloved was this day of rest granted by Arzad Hamri. On this day, Hamri presided as pastor of religious services, in which most of the Starkmanir attended. His sermons from these festivals were collected and distributed among the tribe, often used by the elders to educate the young people of the importance of benevolence and good grace to people of all stations.
The theme of Arzad’s sermons was almost always of the inherent dignity of the Starkmanir, their precious qualities, and the hope of salvation through servitude. This message did not fall on deaf ears, and many ambitious, young Starkmanir took his words as inspiration for independence and rebellion against the greater Amarr Empire, though Arzad was always able to quell the burgeoning pride and self-esteem of the slaves. ‘Salvation comes through servitude, the grace of your masters, the dignity of your being’, was Arzad’s common response, his refrain found throughout his sermons.”
I snickered. It almost seemed that Arzad, self-proclaimed ‘saviour’ of the Starkmanir, was having trouble keeping his ‘people’ in check. I anxiously read the next document.
THE FIRE IN OUR HEARTS
A tattered document, presumably a part of a larger manuscript. The text was written neatly, though much of it was faded. An excerpt from this piece, titled “Chapter 37 – The Fire in Our Hearts” read as follows:
“Lord Arkon Ardishapur, though a longtime friend of Arzad, oversaw the popular Holder’s execution for treason and blasphemy. Arzad had requisitioned an Amarr symbol of authority, a scepter, as a symbol for lowly slaves. Arzad granted the scepter to his slaves as a symbol for enlightenment and salvation. Ardishapur ordered that all copies of this scepter – dubbed Wildfire scepters for its blood obsidian orb, a rock native to Starkman Prime – be destroyed. The Starkmanir were angry at his execution. Arzad’s book of sermons inspired the troubled tribe.
Three months after his death, Arzad appeared to Drupar Maak while the slave was alone in the fields. The Starkmanir youth was afraid at first, though once he saw the shimmering eyes of his former Holder, he was at peace. Arzad handed a Wildfire scepter to Maak, telling him, ‘The fire in our hearts burns for salvation, redemption, and grace. May the Word of God grant you the courage to save yourself and your people.’ With those words, Arzad disappeared, but the scepter was still with Maak. Years later, he would wield a similar item and avenge the death of his beloved Holder on the day of Khu-arzad. After that day, the scepter would be forever known as Khumaak.”
I didn’t believe in God. And yet my skin had goose flesh. There was something about this account that rang true, despite every protest my brain could muster.
If this story of Maak was true, then the rest would logically have to be true as well. I wasn’t ready to accept that.
We searched the final relic, finding the prize Hiva sought, the Engraved Blood Obsidian Tablet:
ENGRAVED BLOOD OBSIDIAN TABLET
A small tablet, made entirely of blood obsidian, engraved with writing. The words on the tablet are not entirely clear, and the dialect is familiar, though unreadable.
My heart was beating furiously for no good reason; completely unexplainable. I could feel myself sweating within my pod.
I decided to withhold the documents I had discovered from Hiva until I could employ some of my own resources to have their authenticity validated. It was just too much for my mind to handle right then.
I contacted Hiva about the orb. She was pleasantly shocked to hear from me so soon.
I can’t believe what you found among those ruins. This is a historian’s dream come true. Now that we’ve got the Blood Obsidian Orb and the Blood Obsidian Tablet, I think we can finally solve this mystery. We’re very close to uncovering the secrets of the Wildfire Khumaak.
By the way: Did you notice anything strange there? I could have sworn I saw an RSS ship flying about those ruins. Weird.
I had Aura go over the scan logs. I was very focused on the relics analysis, as well as what I had found in those documents. It was quite possible Hiva had been right.
Aura returned a negative result to the query, and I relayed that to Hiva.
She asked if I wanted to get together for dinner later, but I declined. My mind was focused far too much on other things.