Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chapter Eight Beta

Spirits - The Most Valuable Currency of All

ISK Balance: 3,951,546.00

My good friend Kallion - who is of the IAC persuasion - and I finally found time to begin the trip towards FAT. The Doril pipe is not the kind of chokepoint a capsuleer should ever tackle alone unless they're looking for a horribly stacked fight, for seedy gatecamping folk and steadfast defenders of the pipe alike regularly set up shop along the narrow highway through the northwestern edge of Curse and kick back for a comfortable night of popping ships and pulling aggravating Ventrilo pranks.

Using the lure of payment in Spirits and Spiced Wine, I managed to get Kallion to fly to Sendaya from his alliance's stronghold in the JZV-06 constellation. From Sendaya, we set out on a journey both of us have undertaken countless times before and knew the perils of all too well - Kallion scouting ahead in his Incursus and I following in my Stabber. Kallion had lost a Dominix class battleship and his implants in Doril just a week or so prior, and I recalled similar losses of my own as my scout called each gate as clear.

Relaxing in the towering jade-edged monolith of the F4 station, I transferred the alcohol I promised my accomplice; he readily accepted it, as a true IAC pilot would. He didn't have enough time to accompany me all the way to FAT-6P, he told me, and we bid each other goodbye until our next opportunity.

In the meantime, I acquired a Prototype Cloaking Device from Boris A, another longtime friend in game and in real life. Being separated from all of them by the geographical and social pull of college, it was good to have both of them in a conversation together and just talk about nothing all too serious.

I had a hell of a time getting the prototype cloak to cooperate with the Stabber's electronic capabilities, but my hotwiring eventually worked.

This cloak would save my tail and Lux Esto's engine nappelles, for after a day of downtime I decided to head of towards FAT without Kallion. After a short practice session with my new cloak, a module I admittedly had never used before, I started on the dozen hazard-laden jumps that would lead me to FAT.

Before I made my way out of one of the IAC home systems, I was contacted by way of trade window by one TalonXI. He offered me a unit of Quafe Ultra for free, saying it would keep me awake through those long 0.0 journeys. Trusting his wisdom, I took the Quafe – one of the most consistently amusing objects in the game – and stuffed it in my cargo hold after giving him thanks.

In addition to the Quafe Ultra, I also came away with some livestock and dairy products. The livestock had been surreptitiously shuttled between the members of Mercurialis Inc. and now fell into my hands. I pledge to carry the inside joke into the depths of space.

After several entirely abandoned systems, my heart jumped when I unexpectedly found two others in local with me. My mind stopped racing quite so quickly when I saw they were IAC. While IAC is NBSI in and around FAT, it still put me at some ease. The traffic began to flow, and I watched from my own personal Wonderplane as AAA and IAC pilots came and went.

Growing bored with the system as it slowed down, I wheeled Lux Esto towards the next gate. As my frictionless warp bubble whipped me through space, two AXE pilots entered system. My Stabber shuddered as it fell out of warp, and sitting there on the gate was one of those pilots. He was in a Claw, and would be able to lock me before I could about face and make it into warp again. I took my only option, and jumped through the gate. Of course, the hostile pilot followed.

On the other side was a Sabre and the expected interdictor bubble. Soon the Claw joined us. As I have practiced so many times, I remained still, using time bought by my post-jump invisibility to think my way out. I blinked into visibility for a sparse second before engaging my own cloak and aligning towards a random stellar object, hanging there, tempting me with a modicum of safety if I could just make it out of the bubble.

Following a cursory search of the bubble, the Sabre and Claw pilots assumed I had made it to the next gate and warped off to "catch" me. While I grinned at my luck, Lux Esto traced a long semicircle and inched towards the gate to the previous system. After a brief visit from an AXE Crow, I was left alone in the bubble. I deactivated my cloak - my blessed, blessed cloak - and microwarped to the gate.

Safe in my invisibility in the next system, I logged, content with the best escape I'd engineered yet.

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