The Concord mailbag today brought word that CLDRI has indeed stopped paying for Revenge War Number Nine. So, by this time tomorrow, Ironfleet will be at peace … except, of course, with respect to the enemy militias.

In other news, Ujagar Sommdax caught up to me on Friday night while I was forming up with a fleet. He performed a well-executed gank, killing my Scorpion battleship in a Megathron that must have been jammed to the gills with ECCM, considering how many jamming attempts I made without landing a single one.

Fortunately I made money on the deal, since the Scorp cost me, ship and insurance and fittings all together, several million less than the fat check I got from the Secure Commerce Commission. Since I had a second one all fitted and ready to go in system, it was really as painless a gank as I’ve ever suffered. I think I was ten seconds behind the fleet when it jumped into Tama for the night’s operations.

I was out close to down time, trying to find and close some defensive FW complexes. Got booted out of one by a trio of Gallente plexers, but not before bookmarking their wrecks. So, after they left the system, I went back to clean up.

So far, in my experience, plex loot consists of Navy tags plus a very light sprinkling of T1 modules, usually fairly low meta-level stuff. Very light loot over all.

Then I found, in a medium wreck, several T1 modules, plus a tag, plus a short brick (100) Caldari Navy Havoc Heavy Missiles. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Faction ammo? In plex loot? Cool.

That makes me wonder whether other faction items might ever spawn as uber-rare items in the loot tables. Readers, have any of you found anything interesting on the faction warfare NPCs?

The stars turn in their courses, the sun sets and rises again, and in the dewy dawn of a new day, another letter arrives from VampireZIM. This one is collected and fairly reasonable:

2008.07.28 01:43
Well, after talking to my corp mates, they have convinced me that I am being over obsessive about killing you. The funny part is that CCP re-embursed me for everything you destroyed anyway, because it was in fact an exploit, thats why you got the CONCORD message, but then didnt show up.

Anyway, I will allow the war to run its course, so i get my moneys worth. :P

As to your question on your blog, you go to Character Sheet and Kill Rights.

Please dont mis-understand me, I still think you are scum of eve, but I am going to burry this hatchet and next time I am bored, I will pick a larger corp with people willing to fight back. :P

Its unfortunate that I will still have to see you in space, but I am setting you to neutral, so maybe I wont notice you there.

BYE

Point the First: The war started on 6/23 at 01:14:00. So, if I’m counting my sevens right, the war would have expired 29 minutes before VampireZIM sent this email, unless he’d already paid the war bill for another week. So, the war’s got at least a week to run, even with the hatchet buried. Probably not quite time to spend the peace dividend just yet.

Point the Second: Has anybody ever heard of a case where CCP reimbursed someone for losses due to exploit, without CCP also at least warning, if not banning, the exploiter? Because, I have not, and it seems like it would be an odd way to proceed.

Point The Third: Smart corp mates. Keep ’em.

That would be: my shields.

I have been flying some Griffins and Blackbirds in faction warfare fleets, so (at the urging of some fleetmates) I decided to buy and fit up a Scorpion electronic warfare battleship. They are so cheap just now that if you insure them, and lose them, the insurance pays out enough to cover the cost of ship, insurance, and a full set of low-meta-level T1 fittings, making it a completely free ship to fly, or just a very cheap one if you get fancy with the fittings.

Took the fitted ship down to Nourvokaiken and stopped at the Tama gate to see what was up. A friend in a Raven was demonstrating EVE to a relative, and asked me to jump into Tama with him to provide a little cover and maybe get a little action on the Nourv gate. We did that, but nobody came to play, so we jumped back into Nourv. He docked, and I was planning to do likewise, when I noticed a flashing red target reticule on a neutral Megathron that was sitting there.

And then, as the saying goes, my shields began to melt like snowflakes in July.

It was a complete surprise and my reaction was one of barely functional panic. Our Gallente friends like to mock the Caldari style of play by talking about how we “roll our foreheads across the F1-F8 keys”. Well, that’s what I was doing.

I selected a random warp destination, gave the warp command, and began the slow and ugly battleship aligning process. (That thing is a flying PIGDOG, my BUSTARD aligns better!) Then I started mashing my jammers and seeing to the details of my tank. I honestly can’t say what he was hitting me with (there were drones involved too) but he was hitting me really hard. I don’t know if he got me warp scrambled (I assume he did) but when I dumped my whole rack of jammers on him, I got a successful jam cycle, which lasted until I was in warp.

It all happened very fast. He didn’t quite get through my shields, but there must have been some bleedthrough, because I had about five thousand ISK worth of armor scratches that needed repairing.

It turns out he was a pirate, name of Ujagar Sommdax, member of Earned In Blood [EARN], with a thirty million ISK bounty on his head. We had a fairly pleasant after-action convo in which he attempted to convince to come back and jam him again “just for fun”. (I declined.) He also expressed astonishment to learn that this had been my first-ever fight in a battleship. As for me, I was trying to find out how he could attack me in high sec without a Concord response, because he is not at war with me and not a member of the Gallente militia.

All he would say is that I “stole his cookies in low sec.” It is true that while out with an Achmed fleet last week, we did engage several neutrals who were attacking the fleet. So I checked the killboards. Ah, there he is. If memory serves, several neutrals were attacking fleet members, so the FC asked for volunteers to tank the gate guns and take them out. I volunteered; so presumably he got kill rights in that encounter.

Is there a way for an EVE player to check, via the interface, for active kill rights other people may have?

I think this one speaks for itself:

This will be my final letter and if you dont get it, you never fucking will. In any court in the country, speaking of USA, would every hold me to an agreement under destress. If you are destroying my property and I say I will do anything you say as long as you stop, NO FUCKING COURT ON THE PLANET WOULD HOLD ME TO THAT AGREEMENT!!!!

END OF SUBJECT!

Apologies dear readers if this grows tedious for you. I use this blog sometimes as an aid to memory, and so I tend to include stuff that happens all in a rush even when it doesn’t make a lot of dramatic sense to blog about it. If you’re just now joining us, there’s a rush of incoming love notes from Vampire Zim. If you prefer sequential chronology to this reverse-bloggy stuff, start with Love Letters From VampireZim, then read But Wait, There’s More! and then come back to here.

For those just joining us, in a previous post I called VampireZIM a liar for claiming he was “making every effort to right this issue.” Last night just as I was logging off, he responded:

Obviously I meant that I was making every effort to right this issue without losing face. If I back down after the wrong you have done me, then I look bad. So that being known, unless we find another way to right this, and I think I have taken a big step in calling for this cease fire, that you have declined, then I dont see this ever ending.

Losing face? You’d think the guy in his ninth fruitless war would have started to notice he’s not exactly saving face by declaring and maintaining them. But, maybe that’s just me.

Just before I logged out for the night, I wrote back:

Do you honestly think anybody but you thinks that some POS modules you lost two years ago are a matter of honor? It’s like the first caracal I ever lost to a pirate, I’m the only one who cares. It’s EVE, sometimes you lose shit.

I suppose that wasn’t nice, but it’s how I see things. Readers, tell me — does anybody here have a low opinion of VampireZIM that stems from his failure to avenge some laboratory modules lost in 2006, which low opinion will be revised upwards if he successfully blows up some Ironfleet ships and pods?

Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

Anyway, this morning I woke up to more love letters. I tell you, things don’t look good for the forces of detante. Where’s Jimmy Carter when we need him?

Responding to the last two paragraphs of my last blog post, VampireZim writes:

First, of all I dont need permission from an FC to pursue you into low sec, if that was my intention, it would have already happend, like the first two times i asked for fleet, I knew you were entering tama, why didnt i set up my camp on the other side waiting for your arrival.

Second, I offered this cease fire for the benefit of the fleet, I very much want to kill you, but I am not going to cause problems in a fleet where I am expected to watch my “brothers” backs.

Zim’s trouble here is that he’s got a credibility gap. Why didn’t he set up camp on the Nourv gate in Tama? Because he lacks the forces required. That gate is usually too hot for two pilots (which is what he had in Nourv yesterday) to sit on. It would be a waste of his Ishtar and Max Threat’s Onyx, and he knows it.

The pious “for the benefit of the fleet” would cut more onions if he’d ever previously volunteered for this or any other of the fleets leaving Nourv at that time of day. (There are time slots when I’m rarely online, I can’t speak for what fleets he joins at those times.) Bluntly put, I don’t believe that he is “not going to cause problems in a fleet” that he joined for the express purpose of finding and killing me. It’s simply not credible.

His next EVEmail, responding to the one above that I sent just before logging off last night, the one in which I asked if he seriously thought anybody else in the game cared about his two-years-gone POS modules:

No, that is the difference, you lost a ship because you were stupid and entered low sec, my POS was my home, it was supposed to be safe in high sec, but you exploited a bug that allowed you to attack it without concord agression. Thats why it was telling you that you were committing an offence against concord, but they didnt show up, you knew you were doing something wrong and you did it anyway.

In addition, it doesnt matter what others think, I think its a matter of honor and thats all I need.

I am fascinated and astonished that VampireZIM thinks I “exploited a bug” when I attacked his off-line POS (apparently home maintenance is not a vampiric strength). At the time, in 2006, there was no Concord response to such attacks. I searched the forums to find out whether Concord ought to be responding, and found nothing but a few conflicting opinions; nobody seemed to know. I didn’t know squat about “the rules” for high sec POS warfare, so I figured hey, shoot first and ask questions later, that’s what everybody else in this game seems to do.

Moving on: Does anybody else see a conflict between the statement “If I back down after the wrong you have done me, I look bad” and the statement “it doesnt matter what others think, I think its a matter of honor and thats all I need”? If it doesn’t matter what others think, why care about looking bad? How can someone fret about “losing face” who doesn’t care “what others think”? Somebody needs to quietly re-examine their inner motives.

And then — the fun never stops! — two more emails in the queue:

I have always warned you, out of sight out of mind, since you joined militia, you have been in sight alot, that is why you are perma dec’d. It was easy to forget you and move on, but now you are always where I am, that is the problem.

I will not cancel this war until we are back to that point, you on one side of Caldari Space, me on the other side.

You make alot of assumptions, I join fleets all the time, you dont seem to notice, I play eve 16 hours a day and I have 3 accounts, just because you dont notice the times I am in fleet, doesnt mean i never do. When I am in fleet, i have a job to do, i dont give a fuck about you, im not going to sacrifice my position in fleet and make myself look bad just to kill your “fully insured T1 replaceable ships”.

But while you are flying around stealing peoples shit, blowing up thier POS modules or whatever the hell you CLAIM to be doing with your time, I will fuckin hunt you till i pass out.

Thirty six minutes later:

In addition and I really think you would be doing the few people that read your blog justice by adressing this. You keep coming back to this SMOKING GUN, that I promised not to attack you if you stopped blowing up my shit, and then afterwards war dec’d you.

Lets put it like this, an evil man breaks into your home, while you, your wife and 5 children sleep, you wake and confront him, he stars shooting one child at a time. You in an act of desperation, tell him you will open the safe and give him all your money if he just leaves, he agrees, then you pull a gun out of the safe and shoot him. In your twisted little mind, are you a dis-honest person or justified in taking revenge on your attacker, someone who has done you harm?

You were blowing up my fucking shit, I negotiated with you to get you to stop blowing up my shit, you are NOT the rightious party in this situation, so get the fuck over yourself already!

The first email speaks, I think, for itself. The second one, since he asked me to address it here, I shall address.

VampireZIM entirely misconstrues and misunderstands the significance of his broken promise to me the night he first encountered Ironfleet. Although I am enormously entertained by the comparison of Ironfleet’s mighty Caracal fleet to an evil child-murdering home invader, I have no problem with the essential mechanics of the analogy. This is called situational ethics, and it’s highly pragmatic — the idea for people like VampireZIM is that you make the promises you need to make in order to get what you want, and then you break them as soon as you’ve gotten what you want.

Situational ethics are pragmatic, but they are not “honor” in any normal sense. Someone with situational ethics cannot be trusted, because they will break a promise whenever it is convenient. And that is why I “keep coming back” to my first encounter with VampireZIM. He speaks of honor, but he doesn’t practice it. And then he wonders why he cannot negotiate with Ironfleet. I think he’s genuinely confused about that part. Because he’s full of his own sense of self-justification, he doesn’t see that he’s forever destroyed his capacity to be believed.

Now, as it happens, I think “honor” tends to be pretty silly in an internet spaceship game. These modern-day would-be samurai who smack-talk anybody who won’t “come out and fight” are figures of derision for me; I see EVE as a very modern war of all against all. Picking your fights and arranging for uneven fights, avoiding the ones you aren’t sure to win, strikes me as the very essence of enlightened self-interest, and EVE is a game that rewards self-interest.

What is not silly, despite all pointless notions of honor, is a reputation for keeping your word and doing what you’ll say you’ll do. Even pirates, the good ones, try to develop a reputation for honoring their ransoms. In a game where many fun and interesting activities require trust, a reputation for situational ethics — for giving your word lightly and breaking it just as lightly — is a bad thing to have. And that’s the reputation VampireZIM has earned with Ironfleet. It makes negotiations between VampireZIM and Ironfleet virtually impossible — a fact he does not seem to grasp or comprehend.

I have never claimed to be the “righteous party” in Ironfleet’s dispute with VampireZIM. On the contrary, I’ve freely admitted that we did him an injury in the hope of financial gain. That’s what Ironfleet does, unless we’ve given our word not to. (I defy anybody to name an instance where Ironfleet has given a promise and not kept it, though. The closest case I can think of was when I accidentally podded Aktala at a time when she thought, wrongly but with good reason for thinking, that we had a no-podding agreement; and I resolved that by paying her the price she named for her implants.)

Nope, the only reason I keep mentioning VampireZIM’s infamous lie (and his repeated statements that he doesn’t feel bound by his promises to Ironfleet) is because he keeps going on about his honor. What he needs, and does not have, and now cannot get because of his repeated denunciations of the very idea, is a reputation for keeping his word.

While I was blogging the last love notes from VampireZIM, another one came in. This one contained a sort of half-assed armistice proposal, which I thought a bit odd, coming as it did from the aggressor:

I would like to propose a cease fire if people in your corp are in militia fleet with people from my corp. We both have FC friends, its stupid for us to put them on the spot to decide who gets axed from the fleet.

So if we are both in militia fleet, we will have a temporary cease fire until 5 minutes after returning back to high sec from a militia ops. All other times war is in full effect.

This cease fire will be kept in place even if one party drops from the militia fleet, it will hold until both parties have returned to high sec space for 5 minutes.

You can post this on your forum, so that if for any reason there is a friendly fire during a cease fire moment, you can hold my honor to it. Unlike a thieving liar, I hold to my word, I hope that we can gain some middle ground in this endevour.

I gave this one some serious thought, because to be honest I’m not happy about internecine strife within the militia. I think it’s stupid and deleterious to the war effort, and I think it ought to stop.

Too, it’s not fair to any FC to have to worry about this shit. They’ve got a lot going on, they don’t need the distraction. I think any FW corp ought to be willing to settle — and more importantly, not to start — wars against another FW corp. Sadly, VampireZIM appears not to share this view.

But the half-assed cease fire option doesn’t make a lot of sense. For one thing, VampireZim and his crew have never before flown any interest in flying with the fleets I fly with. I’ve never seen any of them in low sec (although, to be fair, I did see a CLDRI wreck in lowsec once). So it shouldn’t be an issue for the FC’s of the fleets I’m in. And if it is, I can always — quite happily — leave those fleets and go do something else — a fact of which all my favorite FCs are fully aware.

But mostly, I was thinking of VampireZIM’s infamous emails in which he wrote, a very long time ago:

First of all why the fuck would I honor a promise to someone who has attacked and robbed me?

And also:

I will not honor my word against a tyrant who goes around destroying peoples property, without provocation.

There you have it, folks, from the vampire’s own cold clammy lips. His word, when he gives it to me, is no good. So why should I take it?

And as for his honor, of which he speaks in the armistice offer — well, let me just say that I would not be impressed by it, in the event that I were able to detect it.

So I wrote back the politest rejection letter of which I am capable, after first deleting several more derisive versions:

I’m going to reject your proposal, because I do not trust you. You broke your word to me the very first night you met, and have repeatedly said you feel no obligation to honor your word to me. I don’t see how your public word will help, since you are already on public record as not feeling obligated to keep your promises to Ironfleet.

If you want to protect your younger players and our FC friends, drop the war dec so that we can go back to ignoring each other and killing Gallente scum.

It is my opinion that your wars with Ironfleet make you look bad, and that it would be in your interest to stop them.

Despite your aspersions, I defy you to point to any time, any where, where anyone in Ironfleet has failed to keep a promise. You, on the other hand, cannot make that claim.

We do have one point in common — the desire to find some common ground. I suggest we find it by quietly, peacefully, ignoring each other, forever.

— Marlenus

Gather around me, good citizens, and speculate with me about how the VampireZIM we know and love will respond to that letter. Will he drop the war and let us both get on with killing Gallente scum, mutually unmolested? Let us read together, and see.

Oh, dear:

Your Loss, I have extended my hand and you slapped it, you will have to leave gang, because i have made an effort to make things right.

I dont give a fuck about young players, i can buy them new ships.

My war is JUST, You attacked me first, I am defending my honor.

This war will go forever, so if you dont want to take this kind gesture, then fuck you.

I have spoken to [name of fleet commander, redacted by Marlenus] and told him my gesture to you, your next lie in fleet, wont go as well as last time, I am making every effort to right this issue.

Besides, what the fuck do you care, every ship you take into militia should be one you are prepared to lose. I am not going to betray my fleet by shooting my own, if you cant make that claim, then you are a piece of shit, which re-afirms my original opinion of you.

OK, so diplomacy is not VampireZIM’s strong suit, I wouldn’t have called the insults in the first letter an extended hand of any sort. But then again, I’m obviously not a first-rank diplomat my own self, so I guess we can move past that.

“I don’t give a fuck about young players.” Well. I guess that’s their problem, then. They have my sympathies, and best wishes in finding a better corp as their EVE career progresses. I hear Boromor and RapidTaco have grandiose plans involving 0.0 access and a State Protectorate capital fleet; despite my skepticism of those goals, I can personally attest that both of those corporate leaders genuinely do “give a fuck about younger players.”

“This war will go forever.” Gee, really? I never would have guessed.

The fleet commander — whose name I see no reason to associate needlessly with this drama — is aware of the situation. I have no idea what “lie in fleet” VampireZIM might be referring to; the only thing I’ve said about Zim in the fleet is variations on “He’s just hunting me, he doesn’t usually go out with fleets” which is, I believe, the truth.

But, it doesn’t matter. I’ll happily fly with that fleet commander when he wants me, and leave the fleet to accommodate his preference if he’d rather have VampireZIM on a given evening. My goal in fleets is to be an asset to the fleet commander and the fleet goals. If I’m not an asset because of my baggage, that’s fine with me, there are plenty of fleets and plenty of complexes and (let us not forget) still plenty of uncollected salvage that could use Ironfleet’s loving attention. That’s why war has never been a problem for Ironfleet; two years into this game and I still have far more activities I enjoy than I have time to do them. If I have to put one on hold and pursue another, because of the Zimwar? No big deal.

(Just by way of example, since FW started I’ve been itching to go hunting for stragglers in my stealth bombers. Haven’t done it because I haven’t found the time. But it’s very high on my list.)

Back to VampireZIM:

“I am making every effort to right this issue.”

Now that there is a lie. VampireZIM declared this war; it wouldn’t take much effort to cancel it. If his concern is for the greater glory of the State Protectorate and the Caldari State, he could “right this issue” with three or four mouse clicks. Not so very much effort at all.

The profanity in the last paragraph seems not to warrant a response, but I’ll give it this much anyway: I have never shot at another member of one of my fleets except when ordered to do so by the fleet commander. Given my very strong reasons for thinking that VampireZIM has been trying to get shots at me by joining the fleets that I’m flying in, I think it’s pretty funny who he’s calling “a piece of shit”. I didn’t take his offer because I don’t trust him not to shoot at me in fleet no matter what he says — he’s tried (twice!) to put himself in a position to do just that and he’s repeatedly said he won’t honor promises he makes to me.

VampireZIM, if you want peace, offer peace. You can still shoot at me in low sec, from inside the fleet or out of it. You don’t need a war dec for that. Or, you could offer a fleets-only low-sec cease fire once we are at nominal peace; I’d be willing to make and keep to that deal, although I wouldn’t exactly stop watching my back.

But if you don’t actually want peace, than please, own your belligerence, and don’t try to look all surprised when you get caught trying to set up a sneak attack. Twice.

That is all.

Unless, of course, you want to send me some more love letters.

Today was pretty funny, VampireZim made several more efforts to get into my fleet while it was forming up, and even (briefly) got into the fleet before being summarily kicked by the fleet commander. Whereupon he began complaining about me in militia chat, to the general entertainment of all:

VampireZIM > Merlenus is a loot theif, hope you dont care about your loot fleet
Marlenus > LOL, the FC and I have an understanding

The reason I was LOL is that whatever grudge Zim has against me, thievery has played no part in it. Vandalism? Yes. Vandalism with intent to purloin? Also yes. But actual thievery? It never happened. As the lawyers put it, mine was a crime of intent.

Right then I had a computer crash, and when I got back on, one of the former AC-ME boys (one I always enjoyed flying against, and have happily flown with in FW) was saying in Militia:

Murdock Jones > uh oh ZIM! He’s back hide your POS :P
Marlenus > LOL

The LOL was real, and real loud. Murdock’s gibe (sheesh, there’s a word straight out of the old Hardy Boy books) told me Zim had been trying to impugn my sterling reputation (hence the LOL) while I was offline. Seriously, if I wasn’t proud of Ironfleet’s endeavors, would I publish this tell-all blog?

(Well, “tell-most” would probably be a better phrase. Ironfleet.com is of course the propaganda organ of Ironfleet, as if that weren’t obvious. If you see it here, it’s because I think it advances Ironfleet’s interests to have it here, or it amuses me sufficiently to outweigh any detriment to Ironfleet.)

Marlenus > x discoed
Threv Echandari > OMG Drama Detector peaking…….
Threv Echandari > wahts up this time guys?
VampireZIM > yea, hope you dont accidently disco when i am blowing up your ship :)
Marlenus > Murdock did he say mean things about me while I was gone?
VampireZIM > just the truth
Marlenus > Zim, in two years you’ve never managed to get weapons hot on my ship.
Murdock Jones > just the same old you stole and blew his stuff up
VampireZIM > yea, its easy to run and hide and you are good at it, so many people chasing you all the time, practice makes perfect
Threv Echandari > oh nvm Ironfleet/Zim Stuff….

Right about then, in fleet voice, somebody asked (for about the fifth time) “who is this VampireZIM at the rally point but not in the fleet?” And the FC said “Hey, he’s convo-ing me, I wonder what he wants?” And I said “He wants to tell you what a big old thief I am.”

… pause …

FC says “well, what do you know, that’s exactly what he’s telling me!”

A little more time passes, and Zim is back to smacking in militia chat:

Threv Echandari > Girls girls your both pretty now go and shoot some Gallente for a change
VampireZIM > I wanted to, but the FC would rather have a thief in fleet rather than an able pilot

Remember that “I wanted to” later when you see VampireZIM’s mail accusing me of lies. In two months of factional warfare based out of Nourvokaiken, I’ve seen the call go out to “x up” for hundreds of different fleets. Dozens of those fleet calls have happened when VampireZIM was present in the system. Out of all those dozens, the ONLY times he has ever attempted to x up for a fleet have been when I was in said fleet, and that has only happened … wait for it … twice. He wanted to go shoot Gallente, but only if I was going, too? How…flattering.

Not to mention, unlikely.

Anyway, I responded:

Marlenus > LOL, aggressive salvage is not *all* that I do
VampireZIM > merlenus, yes, you run like a little girl too

Of course I prefer to call it “sensible tactics and good business” — unless there’s some sekrit uber strat for taking on a heavy interdictor and two heavy assault cruisers in my Crane? Of course I run from that gate camp, and I always will. Any sensible solo pilot would. And anyway, until fleet warfare came along, I was never any kind of combat pilot, never wanted to be. Rallying to the defense of the Caldari State like all true patriots, I’ve been forced to learn a few modest skills, but I’m still pretty much in the “fly something simple, follow orders, and keep a deep hangar so you can be in a replacement ship instantly” school of PvP. Tangling with humorless smack-talking enemies offers no reward, so I’m not gonna bother. (Well, not unless they dangle Merlins and Kestrels in front of me like low-hanging fruit.)

So, yeah, Ironfleet is good at avoiding unwanted combat. We’re damned proud of it, too. Which makes it a great day when our enemies complain about how good we are at it.

While VampireZIM and his “buddy-who-often-logs-at-the-same-time” Max Threat were waiting for me at the fleet rally point, I was chillin’ in my undisclosed location, shootin’ quails and drinkin’ beers with my buddy Dick Cheney. (He’s there a lot.) Then the fleet scout reported a rare moment of clear space on the far side of the gate into Tama, so I took the opportunity to move out down the line of the fleet advance and get a few jumps ahead of the fleet. I am reliably informed that Zim/Threat followed the fleet as far as … the Nourv gate into Tama, where they set up camp for many more hours.

Fleet operations, until my dinnertime, were uneventful. At dinnertime, I docked in Tama to save drama at the Zimcamp, and went AFK. When I came back from my meal, I found somebody from Blood Raiders Dominion keeping me company in the station, plus EVEmail from VampireZIM, the first in two years. I’m sorry to report he still hasn’t had time to grow a sense of humor.

The mail — which I am going to go through line-by-line, just for fun, starts:

I have just read your blog, granted I had thoughts about burying my grudge, but in all honesty, Im bored.

First thought: Good. Boring the crap out of VampireZIM has been the main Ironfleet goal in all nine of the Zimwars. I’m delighted to learn that we have achieved our primary war aim.

Second thought: Wait a minnit. “Just” read my blog? All these wars, all this time, and VampireZim (an internet sort of guy — he publishes, or published, an internet video show about this online spaceship game fer chrissake!) has never bothered before now to type “Marlenus Ironfleet” into Google? It’s possible I suppose, but … wow.

The mail continues (we’ll be doing this for awhile):

I was happy to see that you agree that my grudge is justified, I kinda thought so myself.

It’s true that I did say, back on June 19, “to be fair, we did him an injury first, so he, too, would be justified in holding a grudge.” Of course, I was humorously attempting to mock him at the time; this was right after the part where I referred to him as “the notorious carrot juice drinker and wearer of feminine undergarments”.

The grudge is understandable. The passion with which it has been so unsuccessfully prosecuted? Not so much. Fairer minds than mine have considered the situation and said “he really ought to get over it, already.”

As for your childish names and lies, brings me back to the fact that you are a well spoken scumbag. First of all, it is untrue that I drink carrot juice, still not sure what insult that is supposed to bring against me. I do however enjoy V8 vegitable juice from time to time. Second, I do not wear womens garments, not sure where you came up with that.

I looked at that bit of the mail in astonishment. Could it be, could it genuinely be, that VampireZIM has no sense of humor at all?

Dude, those were jokes. You know, vampires, they drink, er, blood, right? Blood Raiders Initiates, Blood Raiders Dominion, the blood theme, it’s not exactly a new thing with you, right? Drinking the blood, it’s one of the things that makes a vampire scary, right? So what would be a fun thing to accuse a non-scary vampire of? Drinking carrot juice. It’s a gibe, it’s a joke.

Yeah, I know, when you explain a joke, all the funny falls out. Sorry ’bout that.

Anyway, it’s not a lie. A lie requires intent to deceive. If I said “VampireZIM drinks Quafe” that might be a lie, because — since the game mechanics allow it — it might be that I wanted someone to believe it. But unless there’s carrot juice somewhere in the EVE database, it was pretty obvious that “VampireZIM drinks carrot juice” was not believable, not intended to be believed. Not a lie.

Same pretty much goes for the “feminine undergarments” accusation. Joke. Mockery. Not capable of being a lie. Not a suggestion anybody was ever supposed to take seriously.

More from Zim:

I will go ahead and keep the war going, until I get bored of that.

Ironfleet shall continue endeavoring to hasten that day to the best of our ability.

To answer your question of why I camp the gate for hours on end, Im watching movies and doing other things, waiting for RED to show up and if you look at our killboard, you will see MILITIA KILLS IN TAMA, so we are doing our part, as well as several others in low sec. In fact CALDARI STATE MILITIA kills MORE THAN DOUBLE Ironfleet at the time of this writing.

No surprise there — as little joy as Ironfleet has given the CLDRI gate camps, it defied imagination to think the hours and hours of camping were solely for Ironfleet’s benefit.

I am laughing, however, at the proud assertion that Caldari State Militia, a shiny new FW corp with 18 members, has gotten on twice as many killmails as Ironfleet, which has seven pilots on its dusty rolls and only two pilots actually flying in factional warfare. Twice as many, in a corp that flies battleships and HACs and command ships. Jim Bridger’s T1 destroyers, and me in my cheap frigates, my Blackbird, my Drake, we’ve gotten on half as many killboards as CLDRI? I say in all sincerity: COOL.

So again, caught in lies. I am very sorry for an individual like yourself who preys on others, stealing and lying.

What is it with this repeated “lies” accusation? Hey wait a minute, does this sound familiar to anybody else?

Who here remembers Chebri? Yeah, that Chebri, the one who hated me with such an unreasoning passion, and always harped about “lies” when she couldn’t actually point to any.

Interesting.

Back to VampireZIM:

I just want to let you know, that I also have alot of ISK burning holes in my pockets, so I will be funding bounties on you and your corp mates, we will see how easy it is to fly in fleets when you dont see the shiny red star next to your enemies.

To which I can only say: “Good luck with that.”

I mostly fly fully insured T1 replaceable ships in fleet, usually ones I’ve got stacked four or five deep in my fitted ships hangar. I go out prepared to lose two or three a night. And if there isn’t a CLDRI tag on the killmail, I won’t even know who was the engine of my misfortune, so I won’t exactly be stewing in impotent rage about VampireZIM’s stealth victory for T1 manufacturers everywhere.

Not to mention the little detail that most FCs I have traveled with tend to primary anybody who shoots at a fleet member in low sec. So those “bounties” will be hard-earned by whomever collects them.

I rather enjoyed the recount of the initial attack, well done

Thank you!

But you failed to mention that shortly after we dec’d your corp, ALL your active members quit because we were chasing them around the verse. Leaving you, your alts and dead characters, for which I see you have never recovered from to this day.

I didn’t “mention” that because it’s not quite true, and the parts that are true contain false assumptions about Ironfleet’s goals and motives. Actually, several of my members did not quit, and some of the originals who moved to other corps during Zimwar I (that part is true enough) made new Ironfleet alts who still play from time to time. (Torpedo Ted, for instance, took out an AC-ME hauler during the INDY war, all by himself in a rocket kestrel.)

But the real fail in that view of the world is that Ironfleet was never intended to be anything but a way for me to get more hangar space, with tabs, and for me to easily give free frigates to some real world friends who joined the game a couple of months after me. Ironfleet has never “recovered” because growth was never an Ironfleet goal. Ironfleet does not recruit, we (politely) reject several applications a month, and I still don’t want anybody in the corporation whose neck I cannot get my physical fingers around if they jack up the stuff in the hangars.

BTW, do not incinuate that the war from BLOOD had anything to do with the drop in members, I pruned the dead beats to raise our CALDARI STATE to join the MILITIA, then decided it would be easier to start CLDRI. BLOOD is growing again.

I’m glad that’s cleared up.

Whew, long blog. My fingers will be glad when this war is over!

Last night when I logged into the game, a fleet commander I’ve been flying with lately greeted me and a few others in militia chat, proposing fleet ops at a specified time with a rally on the Nourvokaiken gate into Tama. Although it probably wasn’t the smartest thing I could do with a war on, I confirmed my intention (still in Militia chat) to be there.

In the event, we wound up rallying in another place, which was probably my good fortune. When the fleet warped to the Tama gate, I found a hitherto unknown (to me) member of CLDRI sitting fifteen clicks off the gate in a kestrel, flashing angrily at me as my war targets are wont to do. His name is vermilles, and he’s less than a month old.

He targets me.

I was in a Drake. I was still waiting for the fleet jump command, so what else could I do? I lit him him up and started chucking heavy missiles at him.

He absorbed one entire volley, which ate most of his shields. Heavy missiles don’t hit frigates very hard, sadly.

The next volley began to arrive. One missile, two missiles, three missiles, four missiles, armor melting in rotten chunks, he’s about to be dead… drat. He got into warp.

No worries. Fleet is jumping, I’ll follow as soon as my aggression timer counts away.

What’s this in local? VampireZIM, who was not in local last time I checked, is now in local shouting “XXX for fleet, XXX for fleet!”

I jumped into Tama, rejoined the fleet.

VampireZim is now trying to “X for nourv fleet” in militia chat. Someone in fleet calls the X to the attention of the FC. The FC, who was not born yesterday and who doesn’t seem to miss much that happens in his fleet, dryly says “I think we’ll leave that one.”

And off we went on about a two hour fleet operation, me keeping a weather eye on local in case any CLDRI boys decide to come into lowsec on an Ironfleet hunting excursion.

During the next twenty minutes, I observe that Max Threat and D34TH — the usual Zimster sidekicks — have logged in.

The fleet op is quiet but useful, we get several nice kills and show the Caldari flag on the pipe down to Old Man Star.

On our way back to Nourv, I observe that the three Vamskateers are all still logged in. Could they, are they, have they really been sitting, drones out, in their favorite Onyx/Ishtar/Ishtar combination, on the Tama gate, this whole time, camping for little old me to return from fleet ops in my fully insured disposable Drake?

I make discrete inquiries. It turns out, they could. They are. They have. Onyx/Ishtar/Ishtar, fully deployed in Nourv.

I decide to quietly end my evening in Tama, since I was planning to log anyway. The fleet jumps back into Nourv, without me.

About two minutes later, one of Zim’s former corpmates jumps into Tama. Looks like my failure to return with the fleet was noted.

I logged, content.

So I was about three jumps out in low sec, in a Griffin, looking for factional warfare trouble, or whatever else I might find. Warped to a gate and there, about 12 km away, was a giant secure container, a huge secure container, and a corpse. That, to a salvager’s eye, is a promising debris field.

So I scooted over and checked the containers, they were full of an unfamiliar (to me) substance called Vanadium Hafnite. Moon minerals I assume, or reaction products therefrom. I checked the market, and discovered I was looking at 12 million ISK worth of goodies, plus of course the value of the containers. Hmm, this sounds like a job for a Badger!

So, back I went to high sec, grabbed an old Badger I, fitted it for maximum agility and slipperyness, slapped on an extra coat of dark grey lubricated paint and a pair of medium shield extenders, and blasted out through the Tama gate into hauler hell.

Amusingly, I never saw a war target the whole way. It was smoother than a trip to Jita, just zipped out there, scooped the cans, and zipped home.

Well, to the extent that a Badger ever zips. But you know what I mean.

The empty containers alone were worth the price of the ship and fittings. The Vanadium Hafnite? A nifty bonus!