From Way Above

Roc Wieler, you’re not gonna like this. Only moments ago the Angel Cartel launched an attack on the Defiant base to recover what was taken from them. Seems they only realized now that they were sitting on something of value. Hell, we barely even know what we’re sitting on now.

The Defiants have fled the camp, which has now been converted into a base of operations for the Angel’s invasion fleet. The Defiants can easily evade a bunch of Angel thugs, but they have asked that we put this chase to an end quickly and violently. Your task will be to smash the Angel’s operational base. That will sever the attacking forces still chasing our brothers from their reinforcements. As soon as that happens, the Defiants can stop running and turn to meet their attackers in a fair fight. They’ve never lost one, Roc Wieler. Those Angels will drop like sacks of fedo crap once they have their support pulled out from under them.

You have your orders, Colonel, will you accept them?

It always fell to the capsuleers to clean up the mess of mortals. I was already engaged in a bloody war with the Amarr and their Caldari allies; did I really want to launch a one man mission against the Angel Cartel as well?

The answer was obvious: hell yes!

My anti-pirate campaign had been gaining steam over the last few months, with more and more capsuleers joining in the battle to rid the Republic of their filth. My denouncement had caused momentum to falter; a victory like this, one man against a fleet of Angels, would surely bolster morale anew. Besides, it’s not like there was any love loss between the Republic and the Cartel.

The Minmatar Republic and the Angel Cartel have a long and checkered history of locked horns and uneasy handshakes. A century back, when the Angel Cartel was building its reputation as a ruthless mercenary organization but had not yet crossed over into out-and-out pircay, the Republic was rumoured to frequently contract the Cartel for operations deemed too politically sensitive for the Republic’s armed forces. While these rumours have never been confirmed by either side, certain other occurences — such as the Cartel’s immediate and unexplained withdrawal from their Skarkon sovereignty bid in YC110 — seem to corroborate the idea of a nebulous connection between the two giant entities’ top levels.

3:30 AM. Even my most rowdy crewmembers would be sleeping it off by now. I sounded the emergency alarm throughout the barracks, and sent down a quick mission briefing.

Within 30 minutes the Onslaught was fueled, armed with Republic Fleet Fusion ammunition, and manned by a full and alert crew.

We made our way back to Todeko, towards the very temporary Angel Cartel camp.

I had to admit upon arrival how impressed I was with the number of ships the Cartel had deployed to secure the Khumaak. It reinforced all our beliefs as to how valuable this item was, and how far behind in the game we truly were.

Their frigates quickly made their way towards me, cruisers, battlecruisers and battleships aligning in the rear. Aura tracked them all on the overview, and I’m sure knew every detail about them, including how many there were, but my vision had already focused onto the incoming frigates. If they were fit properly, they could become a real hindrance to my command ship.

Four Minmatar Valkyrie II drones rocketed from their bays, their high velocity carrying them to the first frigate before its captain and crew could even respond. A thunderous boom sounded from the synchronous volley of my seven 650mm artillery cannons. The frigate popped from my overview quickly, a brilliant explosion in its wake.

My message to the Cartel had been clearly made. I was serious about retrieving this Khumaak for the good of the Republic, and no force they could unleash would hinder me.

Two hours later, only I remained.

The last Angel Captain to die had begged for his life, and the lives of his crew, offering up intelligence about the RSS Agent that had fed them the location information for the Defiants base.

I traded him the lives of his crew, and his swift death for the name of the RSS agent, and he complied.

The battle had been a vicious one, but the Onslaught had proven triumphant.

I retrieved the Wildfire Khumaak and made my way back to Frarn, feeling very good about being a Brutor, about being a capsuleer, about being alive.

Nice flying out there, Roc. The Defiants dealt with the remains of the attacking fleet easily once you took out their support.

As for the situation with the RSS Agent, we’re still discussing our options amongst the tribal leadership, but chances are that this guy was operating on his own. That means basically nobody knew what he was doing or why the Wildfire Khumaak grabbed his attention. You’re probably going to have to take that guy’s passkey and go in there yourself, if the RSS lets us. We’re still talking with them about the situation. Some people are looking at his disappearance in an entirely different light, if you get me. RSS operative shows up and not much later so do a bunch of Angels. Yeah… still a few discussions yet to be had, I reckon.

Anyway, get back to me again soon and we’ll have a plan ready for you. You’ve more than proven yourself now, so I’d be more than happy to trust you with whatever comes next.

Yep, it felt good to be alive.

Glowing Embers

Wait, you found a Khumaak out there? What the hell is a Wildfire Khumaak? I’m dying to look at it, I admit, but we can’t screw around here. We need to get this somewhere safe before we start trying to figure anything out. I have a bad feeling about all of this, Roc. Boufin was strangely protective, Angels were all over the burial site, and the Amarr were plenty aware of its location too. With that many people involved, I doubt nobody noticed us lifting that thing out of the tombs.

I have an idea about where to take, but I need to make a quick holovid call first. Talk to me again in a few moments, ok?

I switched off the comm, finding it funny how Arsten Takalo kept using the royal “we” to describe the dangers “I” had faced.

The Onslaught continued to travel through warp towards Rens, one of my operational bases, anxious to receive much needed repairs before continuing on with this adventure.

My comm buzzed as I reverted to real-space, slowing to approach the jump gate to Rens.

Ever heard of the Defiants, Roc? Well, either way, you’re about to meet them — if you think you’re ready for it. They’re one of the few groups the Brutor Tribe can trust these days. I once had the honour of meeting their leader, Karishal Muritor, before our own Fleet had him put down like a dog for daring to fight the Amarr. A shameful day for us all, it was.

Still, it showed us who will fight, and who can be trusted. There is no group of people I personally would want more than them to handle this. We don’t know how significant this Khumaak is, but let me tell you friend, some of our people are very excited about its discovery. They think it may shed new light on our past. Me, I’m excited too I guess, but more concerned than anything. I’ll relax once this is in the Defiants’ hands, not any earlier.

So, can we count on you to make the delivery? I think you and I are past collateral now, Roc. I’m happy to trust you with the current location of their camp, if only because you have no chance of finding them after this meeting. The Defiants are only discovered when they want to be.

Once again, Arsten had underestimated my knowledge of the universe. I was familiar with the story of the Defiants; most senior ranking military officers were.

The Defiants were a splinter group of the Republic Fleet commanded by Admiral Karishal Muritor, a Brutor warrior and figure of great renown within military circles. Skirting the edge of all-out conflict with the Amarr Empire, the Defiants waged constant guerilla warfare with Amarr forces in the years leading up to the Elder Fleeet Invasion of YC110, despite insistent urgings from the Republic to back down. Though the good Admiral is now fallen and most of his force gone — lost while covering the retreat of the Elder Fleet — a small contingent lives on, scheming to stamp themselves once again into the hearts and minds of freedom-loving Minmatar.

“Yeah Arsten,” I replied. “I’ll do it. I just need to patch up my ship first, then will be on my way. Don’t worry,” I said pre-emptively, “I’ve got a military-grade secured hangar in Rens; nothing’s going to happen to your precious Khumaak.”

Ten minutes later, repairs were under way, a full platoon of marines standing guard within the hangar bay. Nobody and nothing were getting in or out without my say so.

Within three hours, the ship was fully repaired. She didn’t look pristine, but I actually preferred the patchwork look of a ship that had seen action. Every plate bolted on was a badge of honour and respect.

I dismissed the platoon, keeping my regular complement of six marines onboard, got clearance to undock, and headed towards Todeko, to meet the Defiants.

Upon arriving in Todeko, I quickly warped to the coordinates Arsten had provided.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, and held mixed emotions about the Defiants. On the one hand, I had nothing but respect for those willing to stand up and fight, and yet there had to be a respect for structure and authority; often times there was a greater plan, a grander scheme in place which was invariably ruined by lone guns.

I didn’t want to make any ill-conceived notions, however. I wanted to base my opinion of the man on his own interactions with me, not heresay. There were always two sides to a story, while the truth lay somewhere inbetween.

The Onslaught slowed, and I had Aura bring up the viewscreen.

This camp was reminiscient of the Thukker caravans that plied the spacelanes of the Great Wildlands – their home and sanctuary. After their defeat at the hands of a vicious Amarrian counter-attack, the Defiants were thought to have been completely destroyer. Rumours always persisted however, that a few survivors had fled with the Thukker to the safe havens of the south, outside Republic borders. Evidently, there was a kernel of truth to such tales, but the fleet there now was but a shadow of its former self.

Oggur Marendei

Oggur Marendei

Welcome, pilot. I understand you’re the one who found the Wildfire Khumaak. The Matari people are indebted to you, I amongst them. All the same, by duty I am obliged to ask that you remember where you are. These are hallowed grounds; where our finest warriors take time to rest and reflect. I trust that you will act accordingly and maintain the peace.

Arsten has informed me of the situation, and as one of the camp’s senior administrators, he has asked that I offer you some directions. You will need to take the Wildfire Khumaak over to our storage facility. Simple as that. We can handle the rest.

I was satisfied to do as requested, and slowly listed to the left towards the specified storehouse. Still, this mission had started out as a simple document grab from a historian, and was quickly spiralling into something potentially monumental. My increasing curiousity threatened to be my undoing; I didn’t want to just let it go and get paid. I wasn’t prepared to simply be done with it. I wanted to be a part of this historical moment.

camp

After covering several hundred kilometres to the storehouse, I hesitantly sent the Wildfire Khumaak out in a drone, clenching my teeth and holding breath every second it was exposed in space, only relaxing upon its safe and uneventful arrival.

Oggur Marendei was pleased.

Good work. We’ll be bringing in some historians to make sense of it as soon as we can, but you’re done here, pilot. On behalf of my brothers and sisters, thank you for all you’ve done.

And with that, I headed back to Frarn, feeling genuinely good about myself all the while. It might seem like such a small thing, but simple acknowledgement could go such a long way; to simply be thanked for something you would’ve done anyway. It was just …. nice.

I commed Arsten enroute, to give him a status report on my mission.

Good work, Roc. I’m relieved to hear the Khumaak made it safely to the Defiants. I’m going to make a few arrangements to have some of the Republic’s most trusted historians pay a visit to their caravan.

I smiled as I watched the transfer go into my account, and thanked Arsten for his prompt payment. It was always pleasant doing business with those that paid on time and in full.

It had been an eventful few days, and I decided my crew needed some downtime; I certainly knew I did. I adjusted my course to Rens; it was time to go back “home”.

Written by the Victors

onslaught

Good thing you’re still about, we’ll need you again for this one.

The Republic University guys had a look over the document and it has what they’re after: directions. There’s a mention in one of the sections of an old Nefantar bloodline, and where they buried their dead. I’m told they’re important because of some old folktale about how they buried a special type of Khumaak with one of their leaders. Pretty odd stuff, but also kinda interesting.

They’re on a myth-busting mission, though, that’s the thing. There is no actual Khumaak, just a bunch of old Ammatar bones, probably. Still, you go there, check it out, and then they can say in their report that the area was inspected by a capsuleer and turned up nothing. They put that together with the proof in this old book that you inspected the right area and, I dunno, write an essay about how clever they are. The important thing for me was just getting our own history back, and that’s what you should remember too.

So anyway, you feel like digging up some graves? The coordinates will be 2.5 million ISK in collateral, to cover associated risks yet again. If for some crazy reason there is actually a unique Khumaak out there, it belongs in a museum, not your cargo bay. 2.5m ISK would buy a lot of museums, you see. Whatever way it goes, our history won’t lose out again.

Hmmm, I thought to myself; the Ammatar. Aura responded to my partial mental query and displayed some information on a HUD in my pod.

The Ammatars are descendants of Minmatar that collaborated with the Amarrians during the latter occupation of the Minmatar worlds. When the Amarrians were thrown out during the Minmatar Rebellion their collaborators fled with them. The Amarrians helped their Minmatar allies to settle in a few systems not far from the newly formed Minmatar Republic. The Ammatars regard themselves as the true rules of the Minmatars, mainly based around the fact that a fair proportion of the old Minmatar aristocracy, or tribal leaders, were among them. In this vein they named their doman San Matar, meaning ‘true home’.

The term Ammatar was first used by the Gallenteans to distinguish between the two groups. Out of convenience even the Ammatars themselves started using it, stating that, with the help of the Amarrians, they had progressed beyond the old social structure of the Minmatar tribes. Indeed, the Ammatars have very deliberately abolished many age-old traditions of the Minmatar tribal society and embraced some Amarrian ones instead.

In the months following the Elder War of YC110, the Ammatar Mandate was beset with turmoil and uncertainty. During the war, its lucrative tsula plantations — the Mandate’s largest export crop and arguably the backbone of its economy — were systematically destroyed by Chamberlain Karsoth’s forces in retaliation for the Mandate government’s harbouring of Starkmanir Minmatar tribesmen, a clan lineage long-since thought extinct. After Empress Jamyl I rose to power in the Amarr Empire, however, appointing Royal Heir Yonis Ardishapur as Ammatar’s saviour and protector, the nation has entered into something of a renaissance. Aid now flows in a steady stream from the Empire’s coffers, command heirarchies are being reinforced and morale is on the rise. It appears the star of Ammatar will soon shine bright once again.

Reluctantly, I had to agree with Arsten; this was interesting. My own vested interest in the past of the Minmatar people continued to grow; based on words Sanmatar Shakor had once said to me, “To know our future, we must first understand our past.”

I transferred 2.5 million ISK to Arsten Takalo, received the coordinates, and headed out to investigate the Hauteker Burial Site, remembering a key phrase from the Memoirs I had read:

The next morning she was borne up to the stars, to be closer to him. He had her enclosed inside a giant holy dome, a place so magnificent that we wept to see it. In the warmth of the Zaid sun she would remain, forever embracing the shared secret that had brought them together.

Sounded like a good place to hide a Khuumak to me.

burial

Artillery cannons overheated, spewing projectiles as fast as they could. My damage control system strained to minimize the damage being dealt to my ship. One of my invulnerability fields flickered as my capacitor drained. I quickly relayed the command to my engineering team to load up our last capacitor booster, an 800 model.

This hurt far more than I expected. If I kept my systems overheated much longer, they were going to blow causing unpredictable collatoral damage.

I could see my enemy’s shields fail; hopefully his battlecruiser wasn’t armour tanked.

My artillery cannons tore large chunks of rolled tungsten plating from his hull, and I smiled, returning my systems to normal operations, initiating cooling protocols immediately.

The Gistalis Legatus battlecruiser exploded shortly thereafter. It was the last of the Angel pirate gang that had ambushed me upon arriving at the coordinates Arsten had provided.

Under normal circumstances, I would suspect a double-cross, but my gut told me otherwise. Just seemed to me that too many people had an interest in this place.

I surveyed the battlefield, feeling satisfied with the carnage littering nearby space.

I hated pirates.

I zoomed in on a domed structure in the distance, with a serene statue mounting it. It was amazing how obvious things were when you had all the pieces. I tagged it on my overview and pushed forward.

Angel scum! You will not desecrate our holy grounds!

What the hell?

Aura identified multiple hostiles inbound. Imperial Templars! What were the Amarr doing here? Ah, this was an Ammatar Burial Site; they were defending what they believed to be theirs.

The only thing I hated more than pirates was Amarrians, but the pirates had done a very good job of weakening my ship and depleting my ammunition reserves.

Still, if I knew my ship and my crew, they wouldn’t hesitate at the opportunity to kill some Amarr.

I aligned the Onslaught towards the Templars, kicking in my afterburner, extending the side vents of my front panels for maximum effect on the enemy.

The Sleipnir was an intimidating ship to behold. Narrow like a snake, but with the head of a dragon. I would breathe fire on them and consume their ashes.

Two minutes later I was desperately comming for backup from the Tribal Liberation Force.

” I repeat, this is Colonel Roc Wieler in need of immediate assistance in Frarn. Warp to my coordinates broadcast on secure channel Alpha-Echo-Niner.”

My ship rocked again, a plate of armour flying off into the inky blackness of space. My shields were depleted, my capacitor spent, and I was doing my best to hobble away but was taking serious damage. I wouldn’t last another two minutes by my estimate.

Shame, I thought to myself. She was a good ship.

My comm came alive. “Aegis Commander Thraxite, responding to distress call on allied Minmatar channel. You still alive Colonel Wieler?”

“Yes pilot, but not for long if you don’t get here. What are you flying?”

“Just a Myrm. Inbound now.”

Seemed our allies were proving useful… finally.

With the help of the Gallente pilot, the tide of the battle turned. A few of the Templars managed to escape, but both of our ships had remained intact, which was more important.

I relayed the events to Arsten Takalo via comm, sharing in his surprise that the Amarrians had mistaken me for a pirate.

Huh, guess we aren’t the only ones with an interest in this place eh? What the hell are Angels and Amarr doing here?

Well, let’s not hang around and find out. Do a quick inspection of the central burial tomb and then you’re done — if there’s nothing in there, it won’t be anywhere else. Report back to me afterwards, I need to go assemble the Republic Uni guys before you return. Takalo out.

“Thank you for the assist, Aegis Commander. You certainly know your ship.”

“Fly safe, Colonel.”

Moments later, my battered and beaten ship was approaching the tomb. I did a quick scan, and was surprised when something showed up.

I quickly sent down an archeology specialist I had hired in case of such an event, and a few hours later was rewarded  with the fragile weight of a Khumaak in my hand.

I asked the archeologist for his report:

This fragile Khumaak appears to be over a century old, and could perhaps date back to the Starkmanir rebellion itself.

There are unique markings along the side, tiny holes that appear to have fastened the sceptre to a wall at one point. In the centre of the flared orb there is another unique distinguishing mark, the visage of an Amarrian man draped in the robes of a Saint. His name, Torus Arzad, is not mentioned in any contemporary history, Amarrian or otherwise. Below his face a single line of text reads:

“Understand his mercy, and you will know enough.”

I couldn’t believe it. Arsten would be floored.

wildfireKhuumak

The Cost of Preservation

The docking tube retracted from Takalo’s Fleet Issue Tempest. I had returned to my ship and nestled myself back into the familiar warmth of my pod after having delivered the Olfei Medallion.

I mentally reviewed the conversation Arsten Takalo and I had just finished, and prepared myself for the new mission I had accepted on his behalf.

“Very good, Colonel.” Arsten Takalo said, eager anticipation in his eyes as I handed him the Olfei Medallion. He inserted the medallion into a sizable machine, enclosing the medallion in a plexi chamber, then quickly ran some diagnostics against it; my guess to verify its integrity.

I mentally thought of the punishment I would inflict on that double crossing merchant should this prove to be another fake after all.

A few minutes of silence passed, but I was a patient man.

Finally, Takalo turned to me, unable to hide the happiness in his eyes.

“Concord contacted me not too long ago about the actions of a certain Matar Colonel threatening a civilian insystem. The entire incident was recorded via dronecam. I told them you were tasked directly by Republic Security, and that subsequent to the Concord Treatise section 2010.514, were within regulations to use necessary force.

Had this turned out to be a fake, I would have seen it necessary to recant on that of course.”

So it was the real medallion. Good.

I let the man’s veiled threat slide easily off of my shoulders. I had been threatened by worse than he, endured more at the hands of more powerful men (and women), and was no longer as subject to my emotions as I had been in the past.

Isolated incarceration can change a man at his core.

Takalo continued.

Now that we’re past the small talk, perhaps you’re ready for some proper work. I guess we’ll see.

There’s this Gallentean guy, a historian named Aillon Boufin… yeah, I know. The story is that he’s been studying Minmatar history for years now, and as you’d expect, he’s come across a whole shipload of information and documents in that time. Apparently he has one of the largest unofficial collections of documents and artifacts from our earlier days. We’re talking real old here, Roc, some it going back to when it was just us, alone against the Amarr.

Now, I’m told that normally whenever we want to look at something of his, there aren’t too many problems. Recently however, when some of our academics from the Republic University asked to see a particular document known as the Hauteker Memoirs, they were denied. Since that time, they have bent over backwards for this guy. They have even tried to buy it back – this document that Matari people wrote, this document that belongs to us. They have tried that repeatedly, raising and raising the price and yet each of these times more refusals.

This is when things got ugly. Boufin recently made a statement to the University, saying he is only trying to “preserve Minmatar heritage”. After that insult, they called us in. The implication that RU staff would somehow endanger our own history by simply studying a document… it’s almost like he was trying to piss us all off.

Well, the insults stop here. The Brutor Tribe has arrived, and with a capsuleer to back their word on the matter no less. It has been decided by the tribe that the return of this document to Matari hands represents a higher priority than staying on good terms with some overprotective historian, Gallente or not. You will see to this. And before you go jumping in there, there is a five million ISK collateral to cover associated risks. The tribe is not willing to risk our own property falling into foreign hands again. Perhaps you can see why we’re looking to hire an egger? With that kind of money it’s not really an option.

I smiled inwardly. Apparently my own tribe, the Brutor Tribe, was out of touch with the cashflow of capsuleers. Five million ISK was nothing. If this document turned out to be as valuable as Takalo stated, it could easily fetch hundreds of millions on the black market. What was five million when compared with that profit?

That is what a lesser man would do. I was not that man.

As a Matar Colonel of the Tribal Liberation Force, as a child of the Brutor Tribe, as a proud citizen of the Minmatar Republic, it was my sworn duty to do what was right for our people. I would retrieve and return the document.

I had Aura retrieve the details of the last registered ship to this historian, Aillon Boufin. I then had her scan for the appropriate warp signature trail insystem, on the chance he hadn’t strayed too far yet. My stereotypical opinion of historians was they would be skittish and hide as quickly as they could. Public stations wouldn’t be a good option for them; too easy to track. No, this guy would be hiding in a safespot somewhere if he was still in system.

Aura’s search yieled four results. One of these went to the only station in Frarn. Two of these went to the Rens jumpgate. The final one trailed off somewhere insystem.

I took a gamble and decided to stay insystem, launching probes to scan down my potential target. It didn’t take long to isolate a location, and I warped quickly.

As soon as the Onslaught reverted to real space, I was hailed on open comm. I accepted.

Leave now, egger. I know why you’ve come and I know who has sent you. If you think you can just march in here and take things that took me years to find, you’re sorely mistaken. I won’t give you the courtesy of another warning.

The comm went silent.

Seemed this historian had more balls than brains; never a good thing.

I quickly targetted his Gallente cruiser and closed the distance between us. His ship was armed with civilian grade weaponry. It wouldn’t even scratch the Onslaught. I could simply latch a warp scrambler onto him, then have my marines board his ship and forcibly extract what I had come for; easy as taking candy from a baby.

I should’ve known better.

At fifty kilometers, Aura warned me of multiple incoming warp signatures. I cycled up the artillery cannons, optimized capacitor flow, and readied myself.

Seventeen mercenary vessels dropped in nearly on top of me, ranging from frigates to battleships.

Apparently this document was more important to the historian than Takalo had decided to tell me.

I slowly aligned the Onslaught towards the enemy fleet.

The next several minutes was a symphony of artillery, railguns, explosions and chaos. A lesser ship may have succumbed to the sheer number and strength of enemy, but the Onslaught was equipped with a Pith-X Type X-Large Shield Booster, which was effortlessly regenerating shields under this hailfire.

Slowly but surely, I prevailed, never losing my warp scramble lock on the ship of Aillon Boufin. I had more than enough experience to know that often the cowards would warp away while the main force served as a distraction.

After the battle had finished, my marines had no problems retrieving the Hauteker Memoirs, my new Sergeant handing them to me personally.

They looked painstakingly written by hand in an antiquated Nefantar script. These memoirs outlined the short-lived fortunes of an Ammatar clan known as the Hauteker – long since lost to time. The memoir’s focus seemed to be on the preservation of family tradition; the highly detailed passages documenting everything from the way the Hauteker family dressed to where they were all buried.

I could see why it would be of interest historically, and it did spark my interest to know there had been some lost tribe of the Minmatar, but I didn’t understand why anyone would go to such lengths to hide this fact, or monopolize this document.

I left a small salvage crew behind to loot the wrecks and strip them for raw materials, and to deliver everything to my hangar in Rens, taking their cut of the sales profit.

I returned to Arsten Takalo.

He wasn’t comfortable with a face to face, so while I had a drone deliver the memoirs to his ship, we debriefed the mission via vidscreen.

So things spiralled out of control in there. Don’t stress it, Roc. It was to be expected, and if it wasn’t you out there, it’d be Republic Fleet vessels with clone-less crews. You did a good thing; don’t doubt it for a second.

His ignorance continued to astound me. Capsuleers had clones; my crews tragically did not. I had made far too many calls to next of kin in my career to think otherwise.

Hopefully the foreign press will let this one slide, they’ve got enough of us in their own borders to sit on it, but there’s always a few. So long as the big outlets hold their tongues I’m happy.

I sincerely hoped he was right. The last thing I needed was more bad press.

Here’s your ISK back, plus some extra as thanks. Don’t blow it all away though, you’ll be doing other work that requires collateral.I may be starting to respect you, but trust is a damn long way off. We’ll need a moment to pass this on to our friends from the University, but they’ve asked us to hang around, and by us they mean you.

I could barely hold back my mirth at his continued foolishness, yet how he presented himself as so “in the know”. Still, I was intrigued by everyone’s interest in these memoirs, so decided to stick around and see how things would play out.

A Demonstration

The Onslaught exited warp at the coordinates provided by Arsten Takalo.

Aura informed me the location was a Brutor Tribe Community Area. I had never heard of such a settlement, and wanted to know more.

Hundreds of these small community areas have been erected in recent years to accommodate those returning from travels abroad and seeking temporary accommodation. Ironically, they were originally designed to facilitate a great exodus to Federation space, but with the rise of fresh new ideas inside Minmatar borders causing many to return to their homelands, these spacebound communities have come to play an entirely different role. Typically, a single community will be dedicated to one tribe or another, but it is not unheard of for two or more tribes to share one area.

Interesting.

Takalo’s Fleet Issue Tempest came up on scan and I opened a hailing channel.

Arsten Takalo

Arsten Takalo

“A Sleipnir? I can tell my day is about to get more interesting.

Hello Roc Wieler. Thank you for responding to my call. Please forgive me in advance for my distrust, but the events of the last few days have been very taxing on my patience.

Let me get to the point.

We Matari are known for our ingenuity. Civilization owes us a great debt, and the Amarr owe it twice over. Before they came, we were by far the most advanced nation, our technological achievements were regarded with envy by the rest of the cluster. You eggers know a lot, but did you know that?

I’m sorry to say this, Colonel, but I need you to prove your understanding of this. I need to know that you are the one who can fulfill my task successfully.

Bring me an Olfei Medallion. You will have to explore as only a capsuleer can and find one somewhere in the Sveipar constellation, near our homeworld Pator. Of course, some other egger can milk your wallet in exchange for doing the thinking and grunt work for you; that works too. Whether you scan it down inside an Angel Cartel fortress, or buy it for 2 ISK on the market – I really don’t care. Results are what matter most.

You’ll go far with me if you keep that in mind.”

And with that, Arsten Takalo broke the comm link. I sighed, resigned to my fate, getting used to being on the receiving end of orders anew. Living with disgrace, even though I was exonerated of any crimes, still weighed against my own personal sense of honour and justice.

In other words, I was punishing myself still.

I had Aura bring up my list of black market contacts, to see if any of them had ever heard of an Olfei Medallion. After half an hour of failed inquiries, one of my seedier contacts confessed to having recently witnessed an outraged pod pilot threatening a local vendor for overcharging him for such a medallion, as it turned out to be a fake, and apparently not a very good one.

I made haste to the station specified, and quickly located the merchant. He cringed at the sight of me barreling towards him; obviously his fakes were selling well.

I pulled my pistol from its holster, the whine of the power cell increasing in pitch as I kept it steadied at the merchant. The small crowd in the market dispersed quickly, wanting to avoid the potential violence.

Before he could reach beneath his counter for a concealed weapon or alert button, I stretched my other arm across the counter, grabbing the merchant by his thin throat.

“I will say this once. The Olfei Medallion. I want the original. Now.” I put as much menace into my voice as possible, with satisfying results.

The terrified merchant croaked through strained breaths. “I only have copies. To have the original would be illegal. I would be happy to …”

I squeezed harder, furrowing my brow, pushing my shoulders towards him for more physical intimidation.

“Oh, OH! The original. Yes, yes. I do happen to have that.”

I released my grip on him. He rubbed his neck, looking up at me plaintively.

“It’s a very rare and precious commodity; a family heirloom! I can part with it for, let’s say, 10,000,000 ISK”

I raised my pistol to his face. “Five” I said.

“7,500,000!” he haggled. I hated haggling.

“Five.” I repeated, and squeezed the trigger slightly, allowing the energy cell to build up and whine.

“5 million ISK! My final offer!” the man squeaked.

I lowered my pistol and smirked. “Sold.” I said smugly.

He quickly located the medallion and wrapped it in cloth for me. I placed it inside my jacket, then turned to walk away.

“If I find out this is a fake like the others, I’ll be back for my 20 million isk.” I said casually.

“But you only paid…” the merchant stopped himself mid-sentence as I threw a dirty look over my shoulder towards him.

“No worries. It’s the real deal.” He was all smiles.

I headed back towards my ship, and back towards Arsten Takalo.

Republic Fleet Firetail

POST UPDATED: 02/04/10 FIRETAIL REVISITED

Introduction

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.

RF Firetail

I don’t recall what it initially was about this ship that attracted me to her; was it her smooth and sexy lines, her speed? Perhaps it was the way in which she was born, having been birthed from the blood of pirates. Maybe it was her sheer brutal effectiveness? Regardless of why I decided to choose her when I did, it is a decision I have never regretted since.

Today we’re going to talk about the Republic Fleet Firetail, and why it’s such a valuable specialty ship to any Minmatar pilot.

NOTES:

  • Never fly anything you can afford to lose
  • Understand this guide is based on my own extensive experience flying Firetails for a particular purpose
  • This guide is post-Apocrypha so takes into account warp scrambling changes introduced in that expansion.

So you’re an accomplished frigate pilot, probably even read THIS definitive guide on Rifters by the dread pirate Wensley. If you haven’t, you should, because if you don’t understand T1 frigates, then you’re not ready to fly a Firetail.

First things to understand about faction frigates:

  1. They’re expensive
  2. They require specialized skills to be effective

Pretty much any capsuleer can pop open a frigate and take it for a fly; there’s not a lot of skill required. Now of course, in order to fly a frigate well is something different, and requires a few support skills to give you the advantage. To this end, many pilots will train to fly the ship they want FIRST, then learn all the support skills for it SECOND.

Recommended Skills

The RF Firetail should be the exact opposite approach. Take the time to learn all the support skills you need BEFORE you ever undock the ship; it will last longer that way.

What skills do I recommend? For today’s discussion, i find the following list to be the bare minimum for flying a Firetail:

  • Electronics V
  • Long Range Targeting V
  • Signature Analysis V
  • Energy Grid Upgrades V
  • Energy Management V
  • Energy Systems Operation V
  • Engineering V
  • Shield Compensation IV
  • Shield Management V
  • Shield Operation V
  • Tactical Shield Manipulation IV
  • Advanced Weapon Upgrades V
  • Gunnery V
  • Motion Prediction V
  • Rapid Firing V
  • Sharpshooter V
  • Small Artillery Specialization IV
  • Small Projectile Turret V
  • Surgical Strike IV
  • Trajectory Analysis IV
  • Weapons Upgrades V
  • Astronautics Rigging IV
  • Hull Upgrades V
  • Jury Rigging IV
  • Projectile Weapon Rigging IV
  • Shield Rigging IV
  • Acceleration Control IV
  • Afterburner V
  • Evasive Manuevering IV
  • Fuel Conversation IV
  • Navigation V
  • Thermodynamics IV
  • Minmatar Frigates V

If it looks like a lengthy list, that’s because it is. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not just be able to fly your ship; you need to fly your ship well. Ideally, these skills will all be trained to level V, but this is the minimal recommended requirements for a RF Firetail.

Fitting the Firetail

Like anything else, you can do things half assed, and get half assed results, OR you can do things right the first time. In the case of doing things right with a Firetail, it’s expensive, about 100 million ISK expensive.

Holy &$??!** Roc! Why would I spend that kind of isk on a Firetail fit when I can just fly Rifters for about 3 million isk per fit?

I could try to rationalize many legitimate reasons: if you fit it correctly, you’ll rarely lose it; the boost to morale it gives seeing a Firetail in a fleet; enemies not knowing how to fight it as it’s not a very common ship; etc, etc.

The truth is simply Coolness Factor: It’s a damn cool ship to fly. It looks great, it responds great, it dishes out death well. What more could you want?

So what’s a typical Firetail fitting look like? Well, here’s one of my current favourite setups, ready to paste into EFT:

[Republic Fleet Firetail, Renegade Variant]
Power Diagnostic System II
Damage Control II
Overdrive Injector System II
Gistii B-Type 1MN Afterburner
Pithi C-Type Small Shield Booster
Republic Fleet Warp Disruptor
250mm Light Artillery Cannon II, Tremor S
250mm Light Artillery Cannon II, Tremor S
‘Arbalest’ Standard Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Sabretooth Light Missile
‘Arbalest’ Standard Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Sabretooth Light Missile
Projectile Collision Accelerator I
Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Auxiliary Thrusters I
[Republic Fleet Firetail, Renegade]

Power Diagnostic System II

Damage Control II

Overdrive Injector System II

Gistii B-Type 1MN Afterburner

Pithi C-Type Small Shield Booster

Republic Fleet Warp Disruptor

250mm Light Artillery Cannon II, Tremor S

250mm Light Artillery Cannon II, Tremor S

‘Arbalest’ Standard Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Sabretooth Light Missile

‘Arbalest’ Standard Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Sabretooth Light Missile

Projectile Collision Accelerator I

Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I

Auxiliary Thrusters I

Let’s take a look at that visually:

Sample Fitting

Not a bad frigate at all!

PROS:

  • Capacitor stability
  • Agility
  • High warp speed
  • Scan Resolution
  • Signature Radius
  • Top Speed
  • Effective HP

CONS:

  • low DPS
  • If webbed, or caught out of range, the Firetail’s HP will quickly diminish

As you can see, if you take the time to learn the support skills necessary for this fine ship, she will make it worth your while.

ROLES FOR THE FIRETAIL

As I eluded to earlier, the Firetail is not a general purpose frigate; it’s just too expensive for that. I wouldn’t be using it for missioning or ratting, or for mining, or even for general PVP.

So what would I use it for?

Faction Warfare

For all its broken mechanics, for all its perceived pointlessness, there are still a great many pilots out there voluntarily engaged in the war of the Empires. I happen to be one of them, and a Colonel in the Tribal Liberation Force besides.

Faction Warfare plexing, that is, the scanning and capturing of defensive and offensive complexes, is done in a fairly controlled manner. Plexes are each assigned a size, and only ships of that size or smaller can fit into that particular plex.

The Firetail is the king of minor plexes.

The only other ships that can fit into a minor plex are frigates and destroyers, and 99% of the time, at least for my situation, my enemy is Amarr.

It’s an ideal scenario for the Firetail. No heavier ships around to cause it grief, a controlled entry point the enemy MUST come from (each plex is entered via an acceleration gate), and range and speed no other ship in that class can match.

Look again at the fitting. That RF Warp Disruptor has a 30 km range. Do you know many other frigates/destroyers with nearly 2 km/s speed and the ability to fight effectively at 30 km? Well yes, an artillery fit Thrasher can fight at that distance at least, and you have to be careful with those for sure, but for the most part, you’re operating in a way other frigates and destroyers simply cannot match.

Interceptor Tackler

Another interesting role for the Firetail is tackling. It can easily tackle just about any ship in a fleet operation, and anything bigger than a cruiser will be sorely pressed to even hit it, but for real fun, try using the Firetail for tackling interceptors.

It can match speed with most of them long enough to get the warp scram going, and it’s armour can easily withstand anything an interceptor can dish out.

Again, these are group activities! Do not try doing this for solo pvp efforts or you will find yourself losing plenty of isk every time another Firetail bites the dust.

SUMMARY

So, what did we learn today?

The Firetail is an expensive sexy ship with limited use and high skill costs, but when utilized correctly can be one of the most effective faction frigates available in New Eden.

Fly safe.

EDIT (Sept 25/2009) – So the Firetail is going to be getting some love from CCP in the near future. Will be slightly slower, ranking third fastest amongst all frigates, but will see a significant increase in DPS. I can’t wait to start playing with new fits.

Market PVP 101

“That is correct, Colonel; we’ve profited another three billion isk this month.” Minara said over the secured comm. Roc Wieler made sure he checked in with his trader regularly, monitoring her progress on the market out of personal interest; he trusted her abilities completely.

Minara Dawn thought she had the better of him, he knew, sub-contracting some of her work to a third party, but with the resources at his disposal, it was easy for him to find this out, though discovering the name of the sub-contractor had proved more elusive.

He also had recently employed a dedicated trader, who continually was refining her skills through implants and practical training; one day he may rely on her only. While their relationship was new, Roc had a good feeling about Piktun, a feeling of much profit, which was always a good thing.

I’ve often held my market techniques very close to my chest in the past, as there is a simple principle to adhere to regarding the market; the more people you enable, the less profit you make.

Recently, with the changes to Apocrypha, this is no longer the case, and here’s why.

It used to be that you could use a default, out of the box, alt trader, and relying on their inherent skills, profit billions of isk without any additional training time. Now all new characters are pretty flat, skill wise, requiring months of  real life time investment to bring them up to a level of usefulness as a trader. As such, I don’t mind sharing a couple of basic concepts that have worked for me on the market, conscious that some may split their training time anyway when they see how easy and profitable the market can truly be.

MARKET PVP TIP # 1

In real life, traders follow the mantra “Buy low, sell high.” In New Eden, it’s just the opposite. Let me explain how market mechanics work in Eve Online.

When you right click and choose “Sell item”, it retrieves the current highest bid price for that item within your area. So when you sell the item, most of the time, it’s going to a player. Similarily, if you just choose an item category and buy from the default pane on the right, the price shown is the current lowest sell price in your area. So again, when you make your transaction, you’re more than likely buying from a player.

So what does this mean for a successful trader? It means, buy high, sell low.

But Roc, that makes no sense. How am I going to profit if I am buying high and selling low? The answer is profit margin, my friend.

Profit margin is the difference between what you buy an item for, and what you sell an item for.

For example:

  1. Open up the market and find yourself an item in your area where the difference between the highest bid price and the lowest sell price is at least 100k isk. Place a buy order for that item.
  2. Let’s say the current highest bid for that item is 100,000 isk. Bid 100,001 isk for the item. You are now the current highest bidder. When a player sells that item (whether through default “sell item” or a manufacturer purposefully trying to get the most isk for their time and effort), you are awarded the item (if you are still the highest bidder).
  3. Go and pick it up, bringing it back to your base of operations.
  4. Open up “Market Details” on the item. This will show you what other players are selling this item for. Remember, we wanted an item with at least a 100k profit margin. 
  5. The current lowest sell price for this example item is 250,000 isk. So, sell yours for 249,999.99 isk. When a player buys the lowest priced item, they are awarded yours (if you are still the lowest priced seller). You just profited 150k roughly.

This may not seem like much to go on, and as I write those steps, there are many other little tips I could share, and perhaps over time, I shall. 

But for now, noble trader, this should be enough to get you started making isk for minimal effort.

On that note, I have three traders currently, and spend a total of 20 minutes per day on them. Their combined income is just over 3 billion per month, give or take.

Not bad for 20 minutes effort per day, eh?

Faction Warfare 101

I always went back to the basics; returning to the tried and true practices I had learned the hard way, hopefully so I wouldn’t have to painfully repeat them.

I’d been cleaning up my station loft, contemplating my future, which inevitably left me to thinking about my past. 

It was a nice loft, facing the inner hub of Dal station where my room would be cascaded in simulated weather from the central arboretum. No reason you couldn’t have style and functionality, and most decent stations in New Eden were both. The gardens of the central hub covered kilometres, producing more than enough oxygen to sustain life on the facility. It was also a pyschological reassurance; many humanoids had a difficult time living off planet, their bodies not having a clear sense of time passing without night and day. 

It was a “sunny” morning as I was clearing out a dresser drawer, when I came across one of my original lecture drafts for new recruits into the Freeform Industries Academy. Of course, that was before its fateful launch, wherein the corporation suffered the loss of more than 60% of its staff. We never fully recovered from that, at least not while I was still under their employ.

I held the flimsi sheet in the light, reading nostagically.

TLF FACTION WARFARE 101

By now, you’ve finished your basic training or you wouldn’t be here with me. As such, I’m not interested in having my time wasted nor wasting yours, so I’ll cut right to the heart of the matter.

There are several basic tenets to successful warfare campaigning. These are guidelines of course, and you need to be flexible enough to adapt them to your own needs as situations dictate. If war were a static formula, there wouldn’t be a need for free thinkers; we’d just let the AIs do it all.

  1. Never fly into a potential combat situation with implants in your skull. I can’t stress this enough. I’ve heard so many rookie and veteran pilots alike, myself included, curse up a storm when they get podded, losing hundreds of millions of isk in implants.See below for exceptions. *
  2. Always make sure you’re the biggest allowable ship type for a given complex. For example, a minor complex access gate will allow frigates and destroyers, nothing else. That means you should be flying an artillery fit Thrasher into these encounters, as you’ll easily be able to survive, nay destroy, anything you encounter. See below for exceptions. **
  3. Never expect to capture a complex solo. Warfare isn’t a solo sport really; you need to rely on each other for coordinating cover and tactics. Sure, if you’re lucky and happen to be where the action isn’t you can earn a few easy victories for the cause, but generally speaking, you need at least one wingmate.
  4. If you’re assigned to defensive duty, don’t be late. Defensive patrols start at “server up” each and every day. If you’re assigned to border security, make sure you’re on time. Arriving to the party a few hours late is as good as not bothering to come at all. Even three hours in, the Amarr have crashed in on the fun. 
  5. First squad through the gate has the advantage. If you’re already at the bunker proper, your engineers working to sabotage it, your squad has the advantage. Make sure your wingmen are sitting pretty on the entry point to the complex, as all hostile ships will have to warp in to that point. Keep your scanners active, always keep moving, and you should be able to handle just about anything that comes your way with a little teamwork.
  6. Know the hotspots. Never, ever, casually fly through Amamake; that’s just suicide. Know your routes. Do your homework. Use your map filters. Ignorance is as good as death.
  7. Don’t shoot your allies. For Pete’s sake, this isn’t your first time flying! I know they show up as reds on your overview but dammit how hard is it to look and see that those battleships you’re targetting are Minmatar! Think first, shoot second, reload third.
  8. Never trust the militia channel. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a faction pilot is to communicate your intentions in the militia channel. High Command has been working for over a year now to eliminate the security leaks in the system with no success. You might as well target paint yourself for the Amarr if you broadcast there.
  9. Don’t open plexes in an uncontested system. It’s hard enough securing the vulnerable systems we already have. It drives me insane to see “hotshot” pilots out in uncontested systems, scanning down plexes and opening them. You’re doing the Amarr’s job for them. Stop it. See below for exceptions. ***
  10. Don’t expect to profit from war. While the politicians may, you will not. You won’t get paid much,if at all, you won’t often have time to salvage, and you will lose many ships and crews. War is bloody. That is all.

* Fleet Commanders are an exception to this rule. Often your FC will fly with implants that boost their leadership abilities, thereby benefitting everyone. 

** Depending on your skills and confidence, fly what you know works. Personally, I fly a Firetail during my military operations. This ship is almost unmatched in minor plexes, easily able to outmaneuver any frigates and destroyers you encounter.

*** Securing already open plexes in an uncontested system will prevent the Amarr from doing so. This will offer no victory points to a pilot, but can still be useful.

Well, still valuable starting tips though not as thorough as it could’ve been, in retrospect. I crumbled the document up in my hand, throwing it into the garbage; guess there wouldn’t be a need for it now with the Academy defunct.