Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chapter Four Beta

Empire of Lag

ISK Balance: 82,805,197.44

In the Federation, I christened my new Stabber Kabbalah, somewhat accidentally keeping with the theme of archaic religious texts - seems like a better naming convention for Amarr ships, to be honest. Oh well. As I had promised myself, Kabbalah was promptly kitted out in full Tech 2 gear. No slot was left untouched by those little orange corners that make me giddy for the fiery testing grounds of a dogfight. Kabbalah outdoes Apocrypha in the speed department by almost 250m/s - perhaps that edge will save it from the same fate as its predecessor.

While in the Federation, my spending spree on Kabbalah was matched - if not exceeded - by the number of skills I picked up, including Medium Autocannon Specialization and Recon Ships, two skills I had fervently awaited the acquisition of and wished desperately to put to use.

However, Kabbalah was for the moment unarmed and - deigning there were more adventures to be had in Empire than had first occured to me - I headed for that terrifying graveyard for latency and packets, Jita.

Jita is populated by two kinds of player: the hypercompetitive undercutting billionare manufacturing moguls, and the soulless automatons that buy things from them. I was about to become one of the latter, and I steeled myself for the transformation by slimming down my Graphical User Interface as much as possible. The waves of lag had been crashing against the hardy hull of my wireless connection for five jumps now, and as Kabbalah dropped out of warp atop the final gate in the aptly-named Perimeter, I checked my frames per second so I could make a comparison once I was within the monster's gullet.

The map had lied to me some, overestimating the population of Jita by some 400 pilots, but that was probably from the masses coming and going in their ceaseless tides of dip and swell. I black screened for only five minutes or so, and my frames per second remained at a steady sixty as Kabbalah and I were regurgitated one the other side of the gate. I checked the market, scoffing some at the ridiculous cycle of 1 ISK undercutting. While normally when faced with this demented form of undercutting, I'll buy the third or fourth cheapest item, but this time I went for maximum savings and bought four of the cheapest Tech 2 220mm Vulcan Autocannons. The 4-4 Jita station loomed before me, and I shuddered under its slow, cool gaze. Once fitted, they looked positively menacing, but only made amusing clicking sounds when I tried to fire them. Once I'd spent 150% my ship's cost on ammunition, my guns were dangerously warm and ready to be spun up on some poor sap.

A sidenote: one of my guns was obviously worth much more than I paid for, as it was so advanced it didn't show up on my fitting screen once bolted on. Unfortunately, the cloaking device shorted out after I undocked.

I fled Jita, leaving with the sense there was much more to Empire than cheap supplies and Veldspar. I'm going to stick around The Forge a bit longer, and see what kind of trouble I can get into before setting sail for the northern tip of EVE.

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