Mean Streak Contest

There are the few, the proud, the noble hearted within the galaxy. Those that choose the high road, the path less taken; those with a moral obligation to do what is right.

You aren’t one of them; at least not this week …


Starting now, until 12 AM EST Monday July 25th, your existence is all about finding and killing as many faction ships as you can. I’m not talking factional warfare; I’m talking faction ships.

Find them, kill them, post your killmail link in the comments below: win. Continue reading

CCP/Roc’s Christmas Contest

Tis the season to be jolly … fa la la la, la la la la. Don we now our …. well, you know the rest.

It’s that time of year again, pilots, when we become more selfish and greedy than usual, all in the name of a festive spirit. Ah, the joy that is Christmas!

So the powers that be at CCP and myself got to thinking, “What is something that every Jovian fearing pod pilot would want for Christmas?” We wracked and wracked our brains over egg nog, rum, and Christmas cookies, until finally we realized the answer!!!


I want you to tell the universe why you deserve to get into Fanfest for free. In a video. Publicly.


Well, if it’s not evident yet, the prize is a FREE ticket into Fanfest (prize does not include airfare, accommodation, meals, gallente dancers or anything other than the ability to walk in the door at Fanfest for free).***

You will also receive a FREE pass to “Pub Crawl with the Devs”, a lavish tradition of Fanfest that will be all the better with you a part of it.

Finally, you will receive a $50 iTunes gift card (or Amazon if you’re an Apple hater) from me personally. Who knows? You may even use it to buy my three EVE Online related CDs: Bio, One Night of Roc, and Mendre!

Additionally, but not guaranteed, it is my hope that in the fine tradition of Roc ‘s Ramblings contests, my readers and the EVE community will donate prizes throughout the month for our winner.

*** If the winner is unable to attend Fanfest they will receive a $100 US Gift Card at the EVE Online store as their prize.


  1. The CCP/Roc Christmas Contest will begin Dec 1, 2010, 9 AM EST and will finish Dec 31, 2010, 9 PM EST.
  2. All entries must be accompanied by the full real name of the contestant as well as their physical address, email address and phone number. Email for privacy reasons.
  3. Former and present employees of CCP or affiliates including contractors may not enter.
  4. Applicants may submit no more than one entry. If an entry needs to be updated only the most recent submission will be judged.
  5. Judging will be based on humour, creativity, effort and relevance to the contest. Entries that are obscene or against the spirit of the competition will be disqualified.
  6. Entries must be uploaded to a publicly accessible site for download like Rapidshare or EVE Files. Feel free to share your entry on YouTube but please provide access to a downloadable version.
  7. All entries become the property of CCP and may be used for promotional purposes.
  8. Submission of an entry for this contest constitutes acceptance of these rules and conditions.
  9. CCP reserves the right to change the final prize terms.
  10. The judge’s and CCP’s decision is final.


The winner will be announced in this spot on Jan 31st, 2011, at 9 PM after I’ve had a chance to thoroughly review all entries.

Roc’s Social Experiment Contest

The Fall Season is upon us. For some that means the return of their children to the school system. For others it means looking back at fond summer memories; new friends, new experiences. For others still it means three more months until the holiday festivities begin!

For me, it means the upcoming release of my new CD, Mendre, an original club genre effort, available on iTunes this October. It also means time to start promoting!

This time around, I thought I’d try something a little different, social marketing, with a contest.


To enter, follow me on Twitter by clicking HERE, then copy/paste the line below into your feed:

@RocWieler Roc’s Social Experiment Contest! Win a $50 iTunes Gift Card! Follow and RT to enter!


A $50 US (or equivalent value)  iTunes gift card.


You may only enter the contest once.

An active Twitter account is necessary to participate in this contest.

If you already follow Roc Wieler, simply retweet the contest message to enter.

This contest will run until Monday Sept 20th, 12 AM. One winner will be randomly selected from the entrant pool. The winner will be announced Monday Sept 20th. Good luck!


As of 10 PM, EST, Monday June 20th, the winner of Roc’s Social Experiment Contest is @saramina. Send me an email and I will send your iTunes Gift Card code!


While you’re here, why not check out Roc’s existing music works?

BIO – Epic soundtrack inspired by the game Eve Online. CLICK HERE (available soon on iTunes)

ONE NIGHT OF ROC – A “live” rock concert, over one hour in length – CLICK HERE

MENDRE – coming soon to iTunes

<a href=””&gt; <img src=”; width=”300″ height=”250″ alt=”Gym In A Bag. Free Gift with Purchase. Shop Now. TRX Fitness Anywhere” border=”0″> </a>

Roc that Caption #1

For all my anti-social behaviour, for all my sarcasm and disdain for humanity, I have an unwavering belief that there is good in all of us. For me, the problem with people as a whole is that selfishness is far easier, and often the instant gratification and path of least resistance; doing wrong requires nothing but laziness.

It’s only natural, after all; a river doesn’t flow uphill.

So before I get too preachy, let me reiterate; I’m all about community. I enjoy giving.

To that end, I’m going to try out a new hopeful contest series today called “Roc that Caption”. Nothing original or innovative in this at all, but I thought it could still be fun for us.


Create a caption for the image below, posting your entry into the comments of this thread. A winner will be selected next Monday by me personally. Your caption may be funny, serious, mysterious, offensive, whatever you want it to be. There are no limitations to imagination after all. There is a limit of one entry per person however.


The winner, selected by me, will be featured in their own story here on Roc’s Ramblings, written by me. I know, not much of a prize, but there are some that will hopefully appreciate it. I hope it doesn’t seem to be a prize of vanity, as it isn’t intended as such. I just always enjoy expanding my view of New Eden.

Also, one mystery faction frigate has been donated to this contest by @ievecoza on Twitter.

Tyrannis: Contest Winners

Well, the votes have been tallied, the stars added. Spammers have been disqualified for the good of all, and the results are in!

Again I want to thank everyone who took the time to submit an entry: it’s not easy being a writer!


Forgottenby SN1P3R001

Congratulations! This is an incredible piece of fiction masterfully crafted as evidenced by the overwhelming response from every reader! You’ve won yourself 2 BILLION ISK as well as a $75 gift certificate for the EVE ONLINE STORE! I’ll be contacting you by email shortly to arrange prize collection.


Memories by Casparian

Congratulations! Another wonderful piece of prose submitted for the contest! You’ve won yourself 1 BILLION ISK as well as a $50 gift certificate for the EVE ONLINE STORE! I’ll be contacting you by email shortly to arrange prize collection.


In addition to the winners above, the following three authors have been deemed winners for their outstanding efforts, compelling stories, and reader responses. Each of you has won $250 million isk and a $25 gift certificate for the EVE ONLINE STORE!

Zero Hour – by Kreigen

Death from Aboveby Jack Carrigan

They Shine by Ryan Darkwolf

Unannounced Bonus Prize

I always find it fun to offer extra, silly, vain surprises. To that end, even though I said I wouldn’t do it, I picked my personal favourite story. Congratulations! You’ve won yourself a signed poster of Roc Wieler based on the image I showed yesterday! I’ll be in touch with you via email soon about how to collect your prize.

The Fieldby Nomzi Nomnialli

There were a lot of wonderful stories, and there was no favouritism shown for the official prizing, but there was just something that stood about Nomzi’s story that really stuck with me.  Good work all around from everyone. Again, thank you for participating. I truly do appreciate it.

Well, that’s it for CCP/Roc’s Tyrannis contest! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did, and I look forward to you sticking around, reading the blog, getting to know a little more about my life in New Eden.

Until then, fly safe.

Tyrannis: Contest Ended

The window for entering CCP’s/Roc’s Tyrannis Contest is now officially closed. All entries have been received and posted, including a final batch of last minute entries I received late last night.

On behalf of the wonderful people at CCP and myself, thank you for your incredible interest in this contest. I think it’s safe to say everyone has quite a bit of quality reading to do over the next while thanks to all of you.

I’ve learned a few things during this contest, about contest management, expectations, fairness, etc, etc.

One of those things I would like to share with you is the notion of “popularity contests”.

It bothered me when someone commented that this was merely nothing more than a popularity contest. Upon giving it some thought, and digging around, I discovered they were right, and a solution was needed. I mean, even though I’m no longer part of the Tribal Liberation Force, I’m still a man of honour and want to make sure the right thing is always done.

To that end, I consulted with PyjamaSam, the smartest guy I know. With his help, we came up with an equation that gave greater weight to the star rating than the number of users, as well as a diminishing return penalty based on how many days the entry had been posted, as older entries had more chance of getting votes than new entries. This morning, as I started tallying results, the equation seems solid. Entries from even the last day are successfully competing against entries from the first days.

Another item that concerned me greatly was spam. Here I simply need to thank WordPress for their wonderful tools. It was easy to identify which posts were getting spam, and when re-reading a few emails sent to me, plus some of the comments on certain entries, I was quick to disqualify the spamming entrants.

So, while I take the next little while to get everything in order, double check the results, and sit back and relax for the first time in 18 days, know that I appreciate everyone’s efforts and all the hard work that went into your submissions.

PS. Not sure if anyone noticed yet, but the blog is now pointing to This is all part of an initiative I am starting with the next issue of EON magazine. There has been a lot of change in my life lately, and I think that needs to be reflected.

Here’s a sneak peek of the upcoming ad, and HERE is a link to the desktop wallpaper version.

Tyrannis: The Poorly Made Man

– by Haav0c

“Please elder, tell the poorly-made man story again!”, the children cry. A man, with a smile on his face surrounded by wrinkles of age on all sides, leans back against the wall of the hut. “Fine, children, I will tell you the story of the poorly-made man”.

“It is the third day of the planting. The three moons, Alaha, Moroha, and Gleema shine high into the night sky, bathing the unsown fields with their blue

light as the tribe sows the morana seed.

Then, there is a light in the sky, like a new ancestor, shining over us. But, children, this light was not an ancestor. It grew, like the rising sun, but

fast, until the light came to rest outside the village.

The sowing forgotten, we creeped towards the light, like stalking the wild brunda, who roam the plains. What we find is no brunda. It is no ancestor either.

It was shaped like a man, only wrong, and blacker than night. The chest was not some tanned, taught expanse of brown skin, but a drum, big enough to hold a

man twice over. The legs were bulky, big blocky things, like the gods had spent little time sculpting legs that were meant to run like brunda or dance in the

firelight. The head was much the same, there were no eyes for seeing, no ears, no nose, just a ball, with holes in the front where the eyes should be.

The arms were much like the legs, and seemed horrible for the intricate weaving of morana baskets or throwing a spear, with the wrong number of fingers, only

three. They lay at his side, unused. Then, the sphere lit with light like the sun, and the ground around the black-as-night man lit like day, but only blue,

with bumps and mounds where we could all swear there were no clumps of grass.

Sees-the-horizon, with the best eyes among us, climbed a sturdy morica tree, whose fruit is small and tasteless, but is ideal for looking for herds of

brunda. He crept back down, and told us what he saw.

The blue light was not just a light, it was a map. Sees-the-horizon could see all of the land around us, the twin rivers, Sheka and Roanka, and all the land

between them. The rocks and caves we hide in, hidden to prying eyes, were clear as day on this magic.

Then, we watched as the ghostly blue caves vanished, and turned into a great block, with lights smaller than the smallest arrowhead on the side, in little

rows. Blue lines spread from the cave, across the rivers and trees, ending with more blue boxes and spreading to another. It was beautiful.

We left for the night, and talked with the elders, them as old then as I am now. They listened without speaking, and with little discussion told us to return to him in the morning with gifts.

Come morning, we returned, with stalks-the-herd’s second best spear, a necklace of brunda bones and a basket of morana seed.

The man still stood there, still black, with the blue picture on the ground, as beautiful as it was the night before. It was different, though. In the corner closest to us, we could see thin wavy lines, looking just as the rivers around our territory, with the blue lines and boxes still present. Lines went from our territory far away, a beautiful web, like a half-woven basket, and in front of the man a square, blocky shame spun and rotated, growing more detailed with every minute.

I was the one to walk to the man, not out of bravery but because no-one else would. The second my foot landed on the very edge of the blue web, the graceful spins of the object stopped like death had claimed it, and the black man moved for the first time, the head that was not a head turning towards me. I kept walking to spears distance, too far away for blows but close enough for a spear thrust, the distance all tribes hold their discussions in. The man did not react as I held the gifts out to him, nor when I laid them at his blocky feet and walk quietly backwards. The rest of the tribe, emboldened by my approach, stands with hands out to show we mean no harm. His head turns and the holes grow and shrink, making a sound like running a spear along the bark of the morika.

As I clear the edge of where the blue square is and stand with my tribe, the blue light shines again. There are no lines, no blocks, but there is red. The river is the boundary again, and I see red shapes that were not there before. We look closer, and each one is the shape of a man. Sees-the-horizon moves to my side to see better, and we all gasp as one of the red shapes moves to the other. The rivers shrink, and the red shapes lose their shapes, as the picture seems to grow bigger, while not changing size. The red shapes grow closer and merge into one as the image grows, but there are other red spots as well. I recognise the Harana tribe territory, who we exchange children with to prevent the broken-child curse, because it is surrounded by lakes, in my memories and in the picture.

The black misshapen man is still silent, but the map grows abruptly bigger, and the red dot of us merges with the red dot where the Harana tribe is, as other red dots appear, farther away than any of our tribe could hope to travel. The map suddenly stops its growing, and vanishes. The black man moves for the first time, with noises like ten spears against a tree, as the awkward legs move him away from us, leaving the gifts where he stood. He stops, outside of a spears throw, and stands there for the longest time.

We gather the gifts, and return to the elders. They are offended, as a refusal of a gift means a refusal of peace, meaning the black man means to fight us, to hunt in our territory and burn our morana fields. We wait until dark, gather spears and bola, and amass a party of twenty men, who softly run to where the black man was. Before they leave the village, though, there is a rush of flame and light. A blue light, pulsing like my chest, flies skyward.

No-one knows what happened. The black man is gone, but the ground where he stood is black as he was. It fades, in time, and no black men ever return. It was a great day for our tribe, as the best enemy is the one who is defeated without fighting.”

Tyrannis: Temptation’s Price

– by Calvin Ciaphas

“It is with great honor and even greater privilege that I introduce this years graduates. Every year I am increasing amazed at the fantastic potential that passes though this university’s halls.” The speaker adjusted his glasses and gripped the podium. “Minds that were of high caliber entering, and an of even higher when they exit. Men and women of our state, who faithfully completed their educations exceeding all expectations. The Caldari people are strengthened by their resolve, even before they have begun to serve. That is why it is now, with tremendous pleasure, that I now pass the stage to this years Valedictorian, Richard Tentatio!” Thunderous applause began as a robbed figure walked up to shake the speakers hand.
“Rick turn off that holo would you? I already had to suffer through that once today.”
“Suffer? It’s not everyday that Dean Mif says my name without being furious.” Rick turned off the holodeck on the table and with a smug grin, picked up his glass. “So then. Have you given my offer any thought?” He took a long drag off his cigarette.
“What offer? I can only recall a suicidal rant about signing up for a pod corporation in Null Sec, all while you were drunk enough to make a Gallente Midshipman blush. If I wanted to die right after graduation I would have shot myself already.”
“Oh come on Bhin, you know very well that’s not the case. Maxi-Mine has been operating in it’s production sectors for decades, and it hasn’t been at war with anyone since it’s conception. And even if it did, it’s got the guns of the Four Swords Alliance backing them up.”
“I’m not thick you know.” Bhin sat up in his seat and waved an empty glass at the idle service bot. “These corporations are at each other throats constantly. Hell, half the time they just kill each other for sport.”
The bot scuttled over and took the glass as politely as it was capable.
“Another lager please.”
“That’s just bunk the state pushes on us so we piss our pants and never leave home.” Rick finished off his beer and handed it to the bot. “Lager for me as well.” He sat up in his seat and adjusted his jacket. “They’ve invested quite a pretty penny in us, and they don’t want us shipping out to places deemed nontaxable.” He smiled and took another drag on this cigarette. “In Null Sec, guys like us can make fortunes in days that would take decades in empire, and again they can’t tax one red cent of it. So come on, you work a few years on a planet no one will so much as sneeze over and then retire like a king before you’re thirty.”
The service bot returned with fresh glasses and placed them the two ceramic coasters on the table.
“Yeah well, maybe… but how come we don’t hear about guys going out and striking it rich all the time?”
“Because there’s so much money to be made! You really think the state would let that stuff filter through to the public? If you heard about that before, would you still want to sign up for some small time mining corp taxed to death by the state? Listen, you remember Alan Brish?”
“Of course, got us into the Honors Society early. Didn’t he graduate after our freshman year?”
“Sure did, and I happened to keep in touch with him ever since. He signed up with Maxi-Mine and has been raking in more money than both our families will make in a lifetime.”
“I’m sure…” Bhin rolled his eyes and thumbed the side of his glass.
“I don’t joke about money Bhin, you off all people should know that.” Picking up the drink in front of him, Rick took off his hat, revealing his shaved scalp highlighted with blonde stubble. “But here’s the best part. How much would you stand to make in a year, before taxes, if you stayed in the Empire?”
“I dunno, depends I guess… twenty thousand ISK maybe?” He sheepishly replied starting to take a drink
“And that’s if it’s a good company with good contracts.” He leaned in and motioned for Bhin to do the same. “Alan can stand to make fifty thousand in one day.”
Bhin choked on his beer, and spent a few moments coughing.
“Bullshit!” he spat.
“No bullshit, and that was when he was just working asteroid belts. Word is, the company is planning to literally set down roots planet side. There’s a huge hiring surge on the way and freshly graduated geologists are just what they’re looking for.”
“Come on, that’s way to dangerous for me. My parents would be worried sick for the entire tour.”
“Ha! That’s it, think of your parents. Haven’t they worked their fingers to the bone for you? You know better than me just how much they scrimped and saved to put you through school even with those state scholarships. A few years out in the Null, and you can retire yourself and them on your very own moon. I’m just saying they should be able to relax in their golden years.”
“Don’t play that card on me pal… but I guess… you do kind of have a point.”
“There we go! You can see the word of reason yet. We’re the best and brightest of our lot, and you know it. We deserve better than what those statesmen deem fit.” Rick slapped his friend on the shoulder and reached into his jacket pulling out a small data slate. “Here, you can sign up for the same shuttle as me. It’s leaving this week you know, the very last one for a good long while.” A few clicks on the screen and a rather impressive looking contract was brought up. “All you need to do is sign up here and meet with the Human Resources rep before we leave.” He slid the slate across the table and handed Bhin the stylus. “Our fortunes await just a few light years away.”
“I wish I was as confident as you are. I don’t want to wind up being a forgotten corpse in the middle of nowhere… but that sure would be a lot of money…” Bhin took the stylus and scribbled his name on the contract.
“Alright then, we’ll get packing right away.” He picked up the tablet and stuffed it back into his jacket. “Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I’m getting an extra signing bonus for snagging you, but I didn’t want to scare you off before. Don’t worry thought, I’ll be sure to split it with you.” Bhin’s face crumpled for a moment as he processed the last sentence but relaxed as he shrugged his shoulders.
“You’ve always been an asshole Rick.” he sighed, downing the last of his beer.
“Your attention please, all personnel are required to locate their gates for final boarding.” Small lights embedded in the floor beneath Rick and Bhin’s feet illuminated. “Penalties for missing a scheduled transport include, but are not limited to the docking of wages, company probation, and reeducation of company policy.” The lights began pulsing in the direction of the hangers.
“Looks like we’re on our way at last. The first step on a journey to becoming rich men.” Rick hefted his duffel bag over his shoulder and tapped the floor with his foot.
Bhin followed suit, and sighed, gazing at the floor. “I really hate flying; jumping even more.”
“Ha! Tell you what, if you get sick, lunch is on me when we get there.”
The two started down the corridor and merged with a herd of other recruits. Entering the hanger to check in with a manager.
Rick flipped though the paper work they received. “Ah here we go, we need to get to gate ten, and we’ll be flying in… the Scarlet Midget?”
Bhin leaned over, confused at the name.
“That’s the name of the ship, seriously, it’s being flown by a capsuleer too.”
“Why would you give a ship such a ridiculous name?”
“Dunno… but I suppose when you make the kind of money he does, it must not really matter. He probably has whole fleet of ships with equally ludicrous names. See what I mean? We’ll be able to afford our own armada soon enough.”
“I’m fine with just finding my seat at the moment.”
The Scarlet Midget proved to be a Gallente Ishkur, a small assault frigate that specialized in drone warfare. It sat modestly in the hanger, and with green and white armor there was little for it to be called scarlet. The gangway lead into the cargo bay, where a section was retrofitted to hold passengers. Seats were plentiful as it appeared that the pair were the only ticket holders. Bhin threw his bag up onto the rack above their seats and began strapping it down. Rick did the same and pulled a small box out his pocket.
“Here take one of these.” He pulled small blue pill out of the container and handed it to Bhin. “Just a little something to help you with the trip.”
“It’s not going to be like the last time you gave me drugs is it?”
“Of course not, I guarantee no one will turn into a fox or a black hole.”
“You’re a scream when you want to be.”
A small red light started flashing above them and a voice came over the intercom.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking… actually since I’m the only one doing anything useful on this ship I suppose I could be the stewardess as well. But since I’m in charge of keeping the blood inside your bodies, captain will do just fine.”
“That sounds reassuring…” Bhin groaned and readjusted his seat straps.
“Oh yes, welcome aboard the Scarlet Midget and thank you for choosing Maxi-Mine as your means of make me piles of money. Please fasten yourselves in as tightly as possible, we don’t expect to get shot at, but the day is still young! Sorry about the lack of company, I was originally just picking up some blueprints, but the brass decided to tack you guys on as well. If I were you I’d be relieved. After all, those prints are worth far more than you pair any day, so I’ll be flying extra careful.”
Bhin looked over at Rick “This guy’s worse than you. I’m surprised your not a capsuleer.”
“Would if I could Bhin, would if I could.”
The ship shuddered, releasing from the station couplers. Inertia dampeners kicked in and the pair felt their stomachs drop a few inches before adjusting to the new gravity.
“Thought you newcomers might like a look at some of our fancy toys, just try getting a glimpse of this in empire space.” A screen popped on with a visual of the exterior. The ship aligned itself to some point in the system and activated its warp engines. Light blurred and flashed around the ship for several moments until it arrived at a dead space point. Ships were already amassing in the hundreds, with one ship several kilometers away from everyone else.
“Keep an eye on that lone wolf right there; going to put on quite a show pretty soon.”
The small craft wasn’t moving, and shortly after the captain had given this advice, sparks started appearing in front of it. Sparks turned to vibrant flashing and finally a soft explosion of light left a glowing orb in front of the ship.
“Ha ha! Bhin look! They’ve opened a cynosural field! I’ve only read about them, I couldn’t even find a holo of one, and now here we are about to go through one!”
“Who said that? Yeah that’s right I’m listening to ya. You think we’re going through it? Nah, that’s just sticking our thumb out for a ride. Should be along any second now.”
The orb continued to glow and seemed to be vibrating with a higher intensity than before. Shimmering in the distance a similar orb formed, darker than the first. Then with the same intensity and speed that the first orb had formed, the second grew unthinkably large before exploding in a flash of light, leaving behind a ship so colossal neither Rick or Bhin could believe was being shown on screen.
“To the ignorant or non believers amongst you, that my mortal money makers is none other than an Eerbus class titan. It specializes in providing logistics, over whelming firepower, and being the single largest war deterrent money can buy, one of five courtesy of the Four Swords Alliance. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to navigate to the jump portal, get ready to travel five light years in the blink of an eye. Just don’t get sick on the seats, they’re new. Ha!”
“Holy Mother, Bhin… a titan. I’ve never seen one up close… the largest ships in existence and we’ve got five on our side!”
“Yeah… but think what has to be out there to need that many… sorry, but a ship the size of a small moon kind of terrifies me.”
An image of a small dog took over the screen “That’s the whole bloody point!” it barked in the captains annoying voice.
Rick chuckled “Are we supposed to think there’s a dog flying this ship?”
“Well of course not, I just happen to enjoy looking like it. But if you like, I guess I could give you a peek under the hood.”
Rick recalled stories and rumors as to what capsuleers looked like inside their pod and instantly hoped he wouldn’t find out. “Um well, I think we’d rather…”
Rick was cut off as the screen changed again, this time showing a pale corpse floating in a cloudy green liquid. Cables and machinery ran all over the body, some connecting directly to it’s spine, the largest of which were connected to head; encased in a large helmet.
The dog reclaimed the screen “There’s something to write home about ‘eh? Now you know exactly what’s floating around in these pods.” the captain barked with a cheerful demeanor.
“Hey Rick, I think I’m going to be sick now.”
Their Ishkur slowly impulsed towards the titan. The massive ship stretched for kilometers, and very well had the internal capacity to hold every ship in attendance. Instead, the ship began warming up it’s jump portal generators. Like the initial jump, it too would use a cynosural field, this time deployed in Maxi-Mine space, to transport every ship in the blink of an eye. Once more, the void jumped with spontaneous sparks and flashes, energy surging within a singularity in front of colossus. Another burst of light and sitting in front of the ships was a miniature wormhole known as a jump portal.
“Ha ha! We are lucky, lucky boys indeed. We’ve been scheduled to be the first ship though. Please hold on to all personal organs and fluids while we go between two points in space faster than the speed of light.”
The Ishkur increased speed and aligned itself with portal. As it grew nearer, time seemed to slow for the passengers in the hold. All of reality stretched and swayed as the ship was compressed impossibly small and then stretched back to it’s original size.
Bhin’s stomach finally betrayed him and gave his seat an interesting new color scheme.
“Hope the trip was as fun for you as it was for me. Well it was probably more fun for me, I get a tasty cocktail of all sorts of drugs when I go through one of those. After all, we wouldn’t want to risk little ‘ol me getting queasy when popping into an enemy position.”
“I’m going to start needing drugs just from listening to this guy.” Muttered Rick under his breath.
“Heard that. It’ll be on the transcript to if you want to hear it again when we dock.”
Rick sank as far into his seat as far as he could.
“Well boy’s we are now officially in Null Sec. If I weren’t being paid so fabulously by the dullard miners I work for, I could eject you into the void with no more repercussion than if I had ejected a load of veldspar.”
Bhin coughed and spat out “Are all pod pilots as sadistic as you, or are we just lucky?”
“Yes I suppose we all are, and yes again. You’re fabulously lucky to get me, most of my coworkers would have popped you out and paid the difference, but I don’t get to talk to mortals that often, so I tend to enjoy the novelty.”
Quiet overtook the ship as the pilot began their journey and the passengers recovered from the shock of jumping. Some time pasted and the trip began to seem almost bearable. Without warning the ship shuddered and resonated. Before the first shock had even ended, a second made the ship creak even more.
“Thought you might like to know, we’re under fire from some pirates. You can watch If you like.”
The screen in front of Bhin and Rick flickered and now displayed a pale green, fish shaped ship. Dull green lights shown from it’s belly as bright streaks of light shot out from its guns striking the frigate. A Serpentis Vexor cruiser, nearly three times the size of the frigate.
“Just so you know, this is really cute. He hasn’t even scratched the shields yet. If I wasn’t in a hurry, I’d scrap him right here and now. But we still have a ways to go.”
The ship shook again, but this time an odd hum remained.
“Oh that’s swell. He’s jamming the warp drive. Well, can’t go anywhere with that going on. Looks like I’ll just have to pop him.
The screens camera moved towards the aft of the ship where a small door opened. With the swiftness of angry hornets, five drone ships popped out and orbited their host. In a calculated unison, they sped off towards the cruiser. At the same time, the frigate adjusted it’s course and flew towards the pirate. The drones arrived first and in sequence began firing volleys of high velocity anti-matter rounds. In the upper right hand corner of the screen, three bars labeled shields, armor, and hull appeared. As the drones continued their assault, the shield bar quickly lowered and the armor began to chip away.
“You know boys, there’s only one job I’ve truly taken a liking to, that being munition sales.”
The frigates guns swiveled and fixed their barrels on the cruiser.
“In fact, I’ve even come up with my own hook. I give all of my potential customers free samples, delivered straight through their bulk heads!”
The guns fired and their distinctive whine echoed thought the ship. Fiery bolts of anti-matter suspended in a magnetic field, raced across the void; striking the cruiser with deadly precision; gaping holes formed on it’s side. The armor bar fell completely followed by the the hull falling to a tenth of it’s original height. The drones released another volley, finally compromising the ships structure. The ship jerked as a small explosion rocked it’s engines. Then with an eerie silence, the entire ship burst into a white fireball, dissipating just as quickly as it formed.
“Oh shoot… another customer who didn’t like the samples. Well that was fun, sorry about the delay.”
Bhin shifted in his seat and started readjusting his straps “Jeez… you actually enjoyed killing that guy?”
“Guy? You mean guys. Serpentis doesn’t fly pods out here. Actually I don’t even think they have any, that would be a shiny kill let me tell you, much bigger bounty than this one.”
“You mean there was more than one person on there?”
“Sure, whole cruisers worth. Ship that size would have a least a few thousand, even with a skeleton crew”
Disgust leaked out of Bhin’s face“So you just kill thousands of people like it was nothing?”
“Well they shot us first, and then they webbed us. Once again welcome to Null Sec aka Zero Security space. The only laws out here are the ones you enforce yourself, and as you can see that’s done by the gun… or rocket… or drone… I like drones, they’re a lot cheaper.”
Bhin finished strapping himself in and stared at the floor. “Rick… now I think I’ve officially made a mistake.”
Thirty minutes of silence passed before the captain spoke up once more. “Ladies and Gentlemen it is my esteemed pleasure to welcome you to your new home, SVX-D4 planet V. We’ll be docking up at the orbital station soon, where you can find a shuttle to surface or just jump out if you so choose. Station time is 00:38 and once again I’d like to thank you for flying on the Scarlet Midget. I’ve enjoyed our time together, but don’t expect me to stick around, I’m shipping out to the boarders to shoot people who really matter. Ta ta for now and don’t forget your bags.”
Bhin released his straps as fast as he could “Finally. I don’t think I could get off of this boat fast enough.” Hopping out of his seat he grabbed his bag and began walking towards the door.
Rick was still fumbling with his straps “Hey wait for me.”
The station was similar to the one they had departed from but almost entirely deserted. Off in the distance a bright neon sign was proudly displaying “Pub”.
Bhin rapped Rick on the shoulder “Here, you can make good on your little wager. Happy hour is a fine substitute for lunch.”
“Hey Rick how are those deposits looking?”
“Down to eighty percent, should last another week before we need to do any maintenance.”
“Sounds good.” Bhin checked off a few notes on his data slate. “We already have the next three months scouted right?”
“Finished this afternoon. You going to the pub after the shift?”
“Heck yes. You’d think after eight months I’d be sick of the place, but it has a certain charm.”
“I assume you mean the booze?” Rick smiled and busied himself with his own slate.
The panel in front of Bhin displayed the off-world shipments made in the past twenty-four hours. It froze for a moment and an alarm sounded.
“What’s it this time, another blocked pipe?” Rick murmured without looking up.
Bhin put down his slate and wheeled his chair over to the blinking screen. “No… looks like a meteor…” He tapped a few options on the screen and pulled up a visual of the object. “Oh heck, it’s a ship!” The camera panned along side the husk of a ship, obscured by the heat of reentry and totally unrecognizable. Bhin calculated it’s trajectory “Rick… it’s going to hit the command center…”
“Jeez… alright, we need to get a hold of anyone there and get them to evacuate.”
“Already ahead of you.” Bhin grabbed a handset on the table and called the command post. “Command this is outpost Gamma, we’re tracking a inbound ship on a crash course with your position.”
A crackled voice responded “Roger Gamma, we’re not tracking anything on our end.”
“Double check, I’ve got a ship the size of a cruiser breaking atmosphere on my cams and it’s heading right for you!”
“We’re still reading nothing, we’ll switch to visual.”
Static retook the com as Bhin watched his screen.
The ship seemed to be spinning slightly, but not enough for an object it’s size. Getting closer to the facility, it’s started to lurch up.
“Holy mother! Command, it’s still active. Was anything scheduled?”
“Negative Gamma, this is new to us.”
As the ship regained control it leveled out, still on course for the command center. Temporarily blinding the screen, a flurry of missiles and lasers shot out and struck the command center. Huge explosions covered the face of the building.
“Command this is Gamma, what’s your status?”
“All hell’s broken loose! The main reactor’s been compromised. We’re starting an eva-” The com cut out as the facility burst into a fiery hell.
“Holy…” Bhin was cut off by an emergency transmission from the orbital platform.
“This Orbital Platform Omega, who’s in charge down there now?”
Bhin racked his brain, if everyone in the command center was dead, then it would have to be… “Us…” he weakly squeaked.
“Then here’s the sit-rep. The whole sector’s under siege, pretty big force too, that bomber was knocked down by our forces and crashed after taking out your command center. Thing’s aren’t going so well up here, stay put and await further orders.” The transmission cut out.
Rick jumped from his chair and raced to Bhin’s panel. “Holy hell… get a sky cam online.”
Bhin tapped the screen again and the picture changed to the sky above their outpost. Even from the surface, the onslaught was visible. The camera zoomed in as far as it could, revealing ships of all sizes. The void swelled with battleships exchanging volleys to tackler frigates doing their best to lock down the defenders. Suddenly huge explosions racked the distance as an invading capital fleet emerged from warp. Ships only slightly smaller than titans directed their massive weaponry at the defenders. Within minutes there was no one left to fire back.
Bhin and Rick stood silent, unable to look away from the battle above.
“What are we going to do?” Rick stammered.
“How the hell should I know?”
“Don’t we have a capital fleet to come to the rescue? I thought we had guns? I was told we have guns!”
“Calm down, they must be on their way.”
The screen flashed again as another transmission from the platform announced itself.
“Outpost Gamma, this is Orbital Platform Omega, do you copy?”
Bhin scrabbled for the handset “We read you, what the hell is going on?”
“We’re frakked is what’s going on… our forces have been completely overwhelmed and the company is ordering a full retreat to neighboring systems.”
“How are we getting out of here then?”
Silence overtook the com for several moments.
“We aren’t… the company as decided to cut their losses and give up this system for the time being.”
“What?! They can’t just leave us!”
“Well that’s what they’ve done and that’s the situation. Stand by for further orders…”
Bhin dropped the receiver and turned to Rick. “What the hell are we going to do?”
Rick said nothing and stumbled back into his chair. “I… I don’t know…” He leaned forward and put his hand on his forehead. “Maybe… maybe they won’t kill us? Maybe they’ll need us just like Maxi-Mine did. We could still get paid.”
“How are you thinking about money at a time like this? Everyone at the command post is dead, these guys seem real eager to collect their winnings.”
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this, ok?” Ricks voice grew frantic as he began pacing the floor “This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were supposed to sit on our asses, mining rocks for these pod dwelling freaks, and make fat sacks of cash doing it.” He slumped back down into his seat and held his head in his hands. “I don’t to die out here.”
“Well… neither do I…” Bhin couldn’t think of anything else to say.
An hour passed before anything happened. The panel flashed once more with a transmission.
Bhin looked it over. “It’s a video broadcast…”
“Maybe it’s the directors wanting to make a big speech about winning?” Rick was frantic again. “Come on! Play it!”
Bhin pressed play.
The image of an elderly gentlemen came into view, he wore long flowing robes and had a wide assortment of precious stones around his neck. He was sitting behind a glass desk, sipping a cup of tea. “Hello, I am Reyo Ulmarti, chief executive officer of Falcons Head Spacing and Trade corporation. I would first like to apologize for any stress caused by recent events. As you may be fully aware, we have annihilated the defending forces in your system and have already begun establishing sovereignty over it. The Four Swords Alliance has been disbanded by a mole and all of their territory is currently under siege. You have no hope of rescue, please do not do anything rash.” He put the tea cup down. “We are not ones to waste assets acquired through… hostile takeovers.” A small smile flickered before returning to his serious demeanor. “My sincerest condolences go out to the personnel who died when one of our pilots crashed planet side, he has since been reprimanded. Now, the matter of your employment.” He shifted a data slate on his desk and folded his hands on his lap.“We at Falcons Head run a much tighter operation than our predecessors, and do so by eliminating unnecessary costs. For instance, we were simply floored at how much money Maxi-Mine was spending on your payroll alone, which will result in cuts across the board. As well, we at Falcons Head are a capsuleer first corporation and have no intention of wasting money on single purpose personnel. That is why it is my esteemed duty to announce that you are now property of the Falcons Head Spacing and Trade corporation. Explosive collars will be fitted during your next resupply, resistance will be met with capital force. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience and hope you all have a nice day.”

Tyrannis: Meet the New Boss

– by Nestor X

“Final copies, proofed and printed,” said the woman, gracefully tossing a thick stack of forms onto Morshan’s desk. “Just missing the signatures. Two, on the last page,” she added helpfully.

“Thank you, Kay,” responded the man behind the desk. With a gesture he dismissed a report scrolling just above the desk’s worn surface, and turned to the documents, leafing through them idly. All seemed in order. Selecting a black pen he signed twice at the appropriate locations and handed the documents back.

She took the papers, and then hesitated for a moment. “Something else, Kay?”

“It’s just that…” she paused. “Prices are up again. The front’s still a dozen systems away, but… what am I saying; you’ve seen the reports.”

Morshan’s shoulders slumped. “I know. Everything’s gone up.”

Kay gave him a long look. “I trust you. I know the cuts are across the board. Still—most people won’t even read the reports. They’ll just see the numbers falling.”


“Falling, Mister Aduralis! That’s all wages did over the past four months!” The People’s Voice strutted about on the short platform, a thin man with a keen lawyer’s nose for blood in the water. One didn’t rise to People’s Voice without a talent for prosecution, after all.

The Voice rattled a form in front of the unkempt figure sitting behind the dull steel table. “Morshan Aduralis, this is you, correct?”

Morshan looked at the paper. It was his signature all right. It looked naked, sitting on the line at the bottom of the form in bare black ink. None of the little flourishes that made penmanship an art, none of the strong lines of a proud decision. Just bare black scratches.

“I signed the order.”

“Straight to the point. I like that about you, Morshan,” jested the Voice in an aside. “Never bothered with splitting hairs; always liked lopping them off instead. A clean cut, just like with our salaries,” he added in a louder voice for the benefit of the cameras. “Care to explain just what Order 207 did?”

It saved your lives, you idiots, screamed Morshan silently.

“Order 207 instituted a global freeze on benefits and started a series of pay reductions, to accumulate in a twenty-three point nine percent drop over the next six standard months,” he recited stonily, staring the Voice in the eye.

“Wow,” replied this other sarcastically, “I’m impressed. You managed to say that without blinking. And without looking at the document, either,” he added for the cameras. “A guilty conscience makes the crime hard to let go of, after all.”

Laughter outside, where a huge crowd had undoubtedly assembled. The courtroom was closed to the general public, but somehow managed to be packed with various notables and dignitaries, all of whom probably contributed a nice pile of isk towards the High Archon’s retirement fund. He looked bored up there behind the raised platform; this wasn’t much of a trial anyways. The cameras confirmed that.

The Voice had kept talking, but now had finally come out of the flowery mode of address reserved for the cameras and found another question for the witness.

“So tell me, Morshan, aside from your hatred of the Glaaran people, what drove you, a harsh but mostly rational planetary administrator, to take a plasma torch to this planet’s economic infrastructure?”

He ignored the barbs and answered the question straightforwardly, in an unperturbed voice. “Without the cuts this planet is not and cannot be profitable.”

“Ah, the almighty god of isk. So that’s who you serve, hm?”

“No,” Morshan replied sharply, “but the Cranton Corporation does. The same corporation that owns—” he caught himself. “That owned this planet and paid for the defence fleets,” he continued in a strong tone that made even the preposterous Voice pause.

“If this planet isn’t profitable, Cranton pulls out. You’ve all heard the news reports about the Sansha. Unless this planet is in the black, no one will want to defend it.”

“That’s a mighty fine plan right there,” conceded the Voice. “In fact, it’d be a great plan. If only,” he nearly shouted, “if only you were right! The People’s Voice invites Wilsung Strage to speak!”

A man rose from the audience, wearing in an impeccable suit of the highest Empire fashion. “People of Glaarus! On behalf of the Hakatena Corporation, you have nothing to fear. I’ve seen the books, run the numbers, and—” here he paused and gave a genial smile, “—you’ve got nothing to fear. Cranton Order 207 is rescinded. I present to you Hakatena Order One: full pay and bonuses, effective immediately!”

Morshan didn’t need to read the summary his defence coordinator had provided him; the statistics spoke for themselves. Hakatena forces were drawing closer. They had been for weeks now, but this was a full-scale offensive; Glaarus wasn’t a strategic system by any means, but its planetary infrastructure made it ripe for the taking. Assuming the pay cuts didn’t directly lead to rebellion, Glaarus would remain profitable, and thus Cranton would defend it.

Still, he feared it was already too late. Sooner or later Hakatena would come. Glaarus was a source of income, but when push came to shove Cranton would pull out in favor of more important assets in nearby systems. Capsuleers may be immortal but their ships were not; Cranton couldn’t afford a siege. A dedicated push by Hakatena would lead to the fall of Glaarus. Morshan hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

Optimism wouldn’t stop him from writing the letter, though.

“To the Hakatena Planetary Administrator,” he wrote. Then frowned. Crumpled the paper, grabbed a new one.

“To the poor bastard they stick here after getting rid of me,” he began.

Wilsung Strage gave a little bow and sat back down as the crowd outside roared with approval. The Voice waited for a bit, knowing that the throngs would need a bit of time to simmer down again. He got the High Archon’s attention with a nod and strutted to the center of the courtroom.

“Your Honor! I thank the esteemed representative from Hakatena. I think Order One speaks for itself.” The Voice gave a low bow, then returned to his platform.

The High Archon rose. “After deliberation—” Morshan noticed the old man hadn’t said considerable deliberation, as was traditional for sentencing, “—we find Morshan Aduralis guilty of conspiring against the welfare of his corporation and a traitor to the Glaaran people. He will be shipped back to the Empire immediately and shot on sight if he should be found on Glaarus again.”

The gavel’s thump echoed in the chamber, mixing with the muted cheers of the crowd outside.

Tyrannis: In Dreams

– by Azenn

Part I of III:

Bishop twisted his lacerated neck towards the port-side hull window as best he could manage. He had been tethered mercifully to the upper catwalk, allowing him (unknown to the taskmaster, of course) what he loved best in life: a commanding view of an entire ship. The ironclad shackles bit hungrily into his slivered ankles, the chains lacing around his writs made him wince… but, ah! – he had done it. He had contorted himself into a freakish shape he would have once thought impossible at his thirty-two years of age. He had devolved back into the boy of his youth, slim and slender; but unhealthily so. His bruised ribs began to hurt, but what did it matter? Damn his withered back; that was his only worth to the corporate dogs. He would break himself if it meant enjoying this, his last fleeting glimpses of the sky, the stars, of freedom.

And what a sight it was, almost worth the price of his admission as human cargo on the Bestower class industrial. He couldn’t help but gasp. His lined eyes blinked in awe. The heavens in all their glory melted into sunfire around him; for even as the twilight sea of bluish-gray clouds swam past, it sparkled the colors of the setting sun: orange and gold and liquid crimson at the tips. Beautiful the clouds looked, dipped like translucent feathers in a sanguine ink. The dying red sun in this, the lonely fringe system of Saza, bathed everything in that pale glow. It dyed the mists and fog a watery red; it set aflame the enameled ship plates a smoky red; it even spotted the skin of the sickly man shackled to his left a putrid red… or maybe that was the blood he wheezed all over himself.

The Bestower sunk further into the ominous sea of clouds like an unwelcome lead weight; they were now completely enveloped in the darkening mist, now a light shade of purple. A nameless dread pushed against Bishop’s chest. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was drowning, drowning somewhere deep in this lightless region of Aridia where all screams went muffled and all wails became choked gurgles underneath the cruel whip of the taskmaster. He rubbed his neck and traced his descent through the heavens. How far he had been swept from his tribe; how long it had been since his coming of age; but alas, through the stretches of time, here they were: the shimmering feathers he had once worn, dipped in the cloudy purple blood of the hunt.

Bishop bit down hard on his tongue. That had been the day it all changed. He remembered dancing round and round the bonfire, spurred by laughter and music, pressing his wife’s warm palm to his as they counted the stars and talked of growing old. It had been fourteen years since he had–

He paused, noticing the skeleton of a youth, impossibly famished beyond humanity, grinning at him from across the catwalk aisle. For a brief second, Bishop wondered if he himself now looked like that; and then he saw the dreadlocks, crusted with grey, and realized he stared at kin. Skeleton man was one of them, another Minmatar tribesmen, perhaps even from Bishop’s own homeworld.

Skeleton man laughed a dry cough; the kind of cackle made possible only when the mouth has long since traded spit for soot. They had gone waterless for two days.

‘Beautiful sight, isn’t it, mate?’ said skeleton man. ‘And I don’t mean you staring at me,’ he added with a wink.

Bishop shot him a feeble smile that he hoped made it across the shadowed space that gulfed them, lightless as it was save for the eerie red glow. He then shrugged as he turned to resume his vigil. ‘Yeah,’ said Bishop to the glass. They were canned like sardines in a barrel, and every conversation meant dozens of eavesdroppers. Only thoughts were private, and sometimes – like now — those could be stolen. He hated it.

The skeleton gave another hacked laugh. ‘You have kids, mate?’ he asked. ‘A wife, a family?’

Bishop froze. ‘Yeah,’ he said, clenching his fist. A bead of sweat broke on his broke, and he whipped himself back towards the skeleton man, and said, almost a yell: ‘Yeah, I have a family. Why?’

‘Hey, same here,’ said the skeleton, holding up his hands. He then motioned a bony finger towards the window. ‘Good on you if you’ve got someone you can say goodbye to, mate. They’re out there, somewhere amongst the stars. And us, as doomed men, should pay our respects. Each and every one of us. Already dead, we are.’

‘Shut the fuck up, would you?’ interrupted a wiry-looking woman to skeleton man’s left. She wiped the greasy strings of hair from her starved eyes with a shaky hand. ‘That’s the third time you’ve preached this rubbish. Shut up already! Just shut up. I’m sick of it. We don’t need to hear it.’

‘But it’s the truth,’ commented the sickly man to Bishop’s side. A wet cough rippled through him, but he soon continued: ‘We are the dead. We must be. For this planet is a dead world, a poisoned world, and it consumes the living.’

Wiry-woman shook as she glared at him. ‘What are you, a witchdoctor? Don’t spread rumors,’ she snapped. ‘Don’t spread rumors!’

The skeleton chuckled again. ‘But rumors are fun.’ He took on a dour face, and deepened his already scratchy voice. ‘They say on the palest of winter nights on Saza IX, if one listens long enough to the wind, you can hear the song of the legion-dead fast asleep in their unmarked graves.’

Wiry-woman turned the full force of her icy glare towards him, but an unfamiliar voice spared skeleton man the verbal reprimand that was about to accompany it.

‘And that’s the name of this planet, isn’t it?’ asked a hesitant voice from somewhere nearby, obviously well aware yet still dreading the answer. ‘Saza IX, right?’

The skeleton nodded. ‘Ever since the good old boys Concord lifted their ban, the Amarr corporate pigs have been tripping over themselves in delight. Why do you think they’ve been shipping us ‘voluntary’ migrant workers by the month to Saza IX? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not our women, renowned though they may be,’ he said, winking at wiry-hair.

She rolled her eyes, and skeleton man continued. ‘Let me tell you all something I heard. It’s an archaeological corporation that runs this site, yes? But they never run a dig; they don’t ever excavate ground; and they never build more shelters or warehouses. People come here. They don’t leave. What happens to them?’

‘They VANISH!’ shrieked what must have been a rather panicky woman somewhere out of sight. Bishop didn’t like the sickly man much, but he was sure glad he wasn’t chained next to her. ‘No one ever sees them again! Just like my kin who–’

‘That’s right,’ interrupted the skeleton, glancing down the catwalk aisle towards the dozing taskmaster. He lowered his voice as if to lead by example. ‘Wish doom on these Amarr dogs while we still draw breath. It was nice knowing you all, mates, but we drew the short stick.’

‘No!’ said wiry-hair with the fierce fire of desperation in her eyes that made even Bishop pause. ‘There’s always hope. Don’t listen to this Brutor village idiot. You have to believe. Let me hear you all say it.’

A silence fell between them all. No one said it. Bishop had closed his eyes. It would be nice to believe in something, but the skeleton was right. They would all die here on Saza IX, each and every one of them, like cheap cattle for the corporate slaughterhouses to meet some fat cat’s bottom line. And if they survived this desolation, if they made it a week, perhaps a month, maybe a year, what would it matter? In the cosmos, manpower fueled industry, and the captured tribesmen from various Minmatar fringe worlds would all be spent like horses and left in the morning slop for the birds of prey.

The skeleton grinned. ‘Hey, look at that. We’re here.’

And so they were. The Bestower coughed itself out of the blanket of mist that had smothered it, and all of a sudden, as if a wind had blown away the sheets, Bishop could see the shattered world that lay smoldering not more than a precarious fifty kilometers below him. If it had once been green, that time was long past. For all the world had turned to ash; and it swirled playfully with its brothers, the grey snow and yellow dust, all three smearing themselves like rain against the glassy port-side window. Bishop could see the empty ruins, so vast and so very silent, stretched out like a graveyard of twisted metal. Rubble littered the sunken, snow-covered streets. Fallen monuments, like toppled sepulchers, shone with a soft metallic gleam. And here and there and everywhere between, the colossal wrecks of an unremembered people, gilded silver and cloaked in translucent deathshrouds of mist, rose out of the barren landscape like ironclad cairns and vanished into the fog at dizzying heights.

One of those colossal wrecks swung dangerously close, and for a brief moment Bishop assumed they would crash and burn in a fiery inferno of charred steel. But with that thought, the heavy ship lurched sideways and upward, creaking like an old battering ram, and averted them from a passing fate. He heard a few curses from those around them as they banged and bruised limb against limb. But Bishop couldn’t help but smirk. He had shared a thought, trivial it may have been, with a pilot.

The ship leveled itself to the sound of the engine moaning. They now skirted at a safe altitude, well above the unreal city of the dead. Their course had them slowly sinking further into the red sun that itself sank on this ashen world.

‘Prepare yourselves,’ cackled the skeleton. ‘We’re descending again.’

((insert quarter for parts two and three))