Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chapter Four Delta

Dreams of Scams and the Reality of Poverty

ISK Balance: 12,699,014.28

I remember making my first million ISK, setting that first milestone that every EVE player remembers - be it fondly or otherwise. My first million meant nothing to me - I knew it was pocket change - it was my first ten million that excited me. I was already bored with mission running then, but it was the most profitable use of my time to date and I promised myself I would leave my shifty, poor quality Level Two agent behind once I had made ten million ISK; to me, it was just enough to fill a bathtub to swim in, you see. As soon as my wallet flashed and racked up to seven digits like a slot machine that had just hit the jackpot, I turned tail from Empire space and never looked back.

It's odd for me to have spent so much time almost continuously in high security, after scorning its clutches for so long. Already I feel the need to send Kabbalah screaming northward - a comet of rust and duct tape - but I had to finish what I'd started here in the Federation.

I had my drugs, ready to pose as boosters for just long enough to pass a cursory inspection in the trade screen. I felt like the madame of a Bangkok brothel. It took a few more anxious, stress-laden jumps with my cargo hold crammed with Crash and Frentix before I found a population center bustling enough with enough activity to afford me a chance to try out my embryonic scam.

Almost immediately after I began hawking my goods, I had a convo request. I accepted, but checked my potential target's age. While the speed with which they convo'd me bespoke of an experienced player's confidence, their young age made me hope they were simply eager to get their hands on a fabled and powerful booster.

However, as my conversation with the buyer progressed, it became readily apparent he was the alt of a seasoned veteran, in town solely to snatch up a good deal like mine. I knew as soon as he saw my drugs in the trade window instead of the booster he was paying for, my plan would be foiled. I acted the businessman nonetheless, allowing him to pick the item he wanted and the quantity. I politely offered a modest five million as the price for five Frentix boosters, utilizing superfluous amounts of smiley faces and exclamation points to mark my exuberance for the sale.

Then the awkward pause came as soon as I dragged the Frentix into my half of the the trade window. "These aren't boosters."

I feigned ignorance, concocting a less-than-plausible story about how I'd been had by a scammer who sold me the drugs for 500,000 ISK each, saying I could resell them for twice that. "I've been had," I sighed into the conversation window, filled with embarassment at my failure to con my quarry.

Sick of drugs, I ditched Marathon and the drugs in my current station and made the few jumps to my beloved Kabbalah. There, I looked over the hundred-strong populace of the system while my Stabber rocked gently in midair. Surely, there was someone out there wobbling precarious and ignorant over the abyss of a well laid ruse, and all I needed to do was give them a push.

I strongly considered giving the ordeal up for lost and heading north.

I made a terse, calm statement. "1 mil to whoever puts an x in local."

There was a pause. And then, one hopeful "x" trembled in local. I sent the million ISK.

There were a few more - each received their award for their bravery. And then, not in a torrent, but rather akin to rogue droplets from a leaky faucet, more "x"es trickled in. I paid out six million ISK in total.

And then we talked. And talked and talked and talked. I instantly began to like the natives of Dodixie that had been attentive enough to wrangle a million ISK from me. I promised ten million to the most creative use of the multipurpose "x," and when an X-Files joke won me over, I sent that payout too. I was stunned by how open and friendly formerly aloof strangers became with me as soon as I set their wallets a-blinking. A thought occured to me - I was not persuasive, cunning, or ingenious in the least when it came to the scams I had read so much about and occasionally idolized - but what if I used the trust I had acquired through the simplicity of free ISK to fuel a scam?

I could not perpetrate such an atrocity upon the six Dodixians that had been so hospitable, so I set my autopilot for Ourslaert, the Gallente Federation's own miniature Jita.

Once settled into an Ourslaert station, I put the same offer into local - albeit only 250k for an "x" to prevent myself from breaking the bank too early. I gave out maybe 1.5 million or so - the nearly 150 others were either dead asleep at the keyboard or simply too jaded to take a token of free isk.

The 250k ISK had hardly softened up my new friends as much as a million would have, but I began building my trap nonetheless. "Now, I'll double whatever you send me." Utterly transparent to their jaded eyes, the Ourlaertians saturated local with many a "lol," and even a "rofl." Run along, scammer, they said. One sent me 100k ISK as a joke.

When I sent him back 200k as promised, he made a big mistake for him and his friends - he stated in local I'd been honorable.

They sent me a million. Five million. Ten million. They got back two million, ten million, twenty million.

Then my wallet flashed and lept by fifty million. If I were going to take their ISK, now was the time. At such little cost to myself in ISK and time, I'd gotten a complete stranger to send me fifty million ISK simply out of faith in my word that I would double it for him.

I told the man, Porthos Cudlar, he'd made a big gamble. He said he had. He said he figured this was the part where I took his money.

I right clicked his name and sent him his 100 million.

It didn't matter to me whether I wound up richer or poorer - this whole story, after all, is about surviving regardless of the ISK in my wallet - but I had pulled off a scam. There was a happiness-blurred minute where I had taken someone else's hard earned ISK. Stolen it. Made off with it. It was mine and I had done nothing to relieve him of it but ask politely. I had pickpocketed another EVE player for 50 million ISK, in broad daylight with 150 witnesses. And for those of you who think it's effortless, try it sometime - it just may have been the hardest 50 million ISK I've ever earned.

Hah. Got your nose.

I'm going north.

No comments: