By my count, the not-yet-retracted war by VampireZim’s CLDRI against Ironfleet Towing and Salvage is the ninth war declared (by the Zimster, his alts, allies, associates, and for all I know, buttboys) in pursuit of vengeance for something that happened more than two years ago.

I’m not sure, it could be more. Ironfleet has had at least one mercenary dec us for reasons never explained.

In all those nine wars, my entire losses to date have been one day-old alt in a shuttle, popped, then caught again in his reaper, and podded. I think, but am not sure, that one of my old corpies from back in the day may have lost a small ship also. I also had some giant secure cans go missing during the first war, but I’d count those as a loss for the other side, given the time and missiles needed to blow up a giant secure can.

As the Six Fingered Man in The Princess Bride might say: “Are you still trying to WIN? You’ve got an overdeveloped sense of vengeance.”

So, I know you’re all wondering. What terrible misdeed did Ironfleet Towing And Salvage commit on June 21, 2006, in our massive rumbling fleet of three, yes THREE awesome and fear-inspiring Caracals and one Maulus frigate, piloted by a fearsome crew (that’s us) of intrepid salvagers, the oldest of whom (me) was all of two months and nine days old?

Aside: now that I see it in print, that date of our infamous crime is precisely two years prior to the recent (now-retracted) wardec from BLOOD. Coincidence? Could be. Maybe not.

Ah yes, the crime. You want to hear about the crime.

To tell you about the crime, you have to understand that when I started EVE, most missions were taking place near the stargates, so that when you travelled anywhere, you would see these vast “canstellations” of loot cans. I quickly discovered that the ISK from cleaning those up was vastly better than from anything else a noob pilot could do. Yeah, sometimes an irate Navy Raven pilot would lob torpedoes at my Condor, but that was more exhilarating than dangerous.

I did try mining (boring) and mission running (same) and ratting (great until I ran out of challenging rats in high-sec). When I tried to go to .4 space for better rats, they started spawning cruisers with heavy missiles; since I was in a destroyer with low skills, that ended badly. I never even got a chance to meet a pirate, lucky me. So I went back to cleaning up canstellations, and started saving up for a Caracal so I could have some of those heavy missiles for my own. Yes, friends, my ongoing enthusiasm for heavy missiles can be directly traced to about sixty very bad seconds in Horrkenson when I lost my first destroyer to some Gurista pirate cruisers.

Right about then, I had some friends who were interested in the game, so I gave them some timecards and set up Ironfleet Towing And Salvage, bought them some frigates, pointed them at the canstellations, and told them to get to work.

Which they did, after a fashion, but unlike me, they also enjoyed mission running. So they did that too.

Then came the fateful day when I was warping from moon to moon in Eitu, trying to find some of the famous Player Owned Stations (POSs) I had been reading about on the forums. Found some, too. And one of them, interestingly enough, was out of fuel, offline, and had no force field. It did, however, have several labs, a ship assembly array, some silos, all kinds of stuff.

The POS belonged to an outfit named Caldari Manufacturing Corp. Member count: 1. Founder and CEO, you guessed it: VampireZim.

And that’s when my salvager instinct kicked in. What would happen, I wondered, if I blew up some of those labs and silos? Would candy fall out of the pinata?

I hit the forums. There I found an interesting thing — there was a dispute going on about whether Concord would respond to an attack on a high-sec POS. Some said yes, some said no. And nobody seemed to know whether loot could fall out; again, some said yes, some said no.

I figured it was time to conduct some salvage science.

First thing I did was jump in an Ibis and go shoot at a (different) POS I had found. Ping, ping, ping, the peas from my civilian Gatling peashooter struck it, buffet after puny buffet.

Concord did not trouble itself with this modest problem.

So I called in the troops. By now Ironfleet could muster three Caracals and a Maulus frigate in space at one time, so at an appointed hour, we all showed up and began blasting POS modules. Each one took awhile, but we had plenty of time.

By the time we had blown up perhaps a third of the modules, I was receiving an urgent communique from one VampireZim. It was at that moment that I encountered my first EVE smacktalk. (Before that, I had been a smacktalk virgin.)

And my, how the smack was smacked! Sadly I do not have the chat logs any more, so I cannot give you particulars. But names were called, and threats were made, and we were all going to die repeated and bloody deaths until we were podded out of the game and left wallowing in freakish misery forever. Or something like that.

It was not a communique calculated to preserve his assets. Heck, he could have probably offered us three million ISK in ransom and we would have gone away stupidly happy, but we were too clueless to ask and he was too frothy to offer.

As well hung for a sheep as for a lamb, we kept on popping POS modules. And VampireZim kept on convo-smacking.

By the time we’d blown up about half the modules, we were (a) low on missiles, and (b) not seeing any loot cans. And my corpies were starting to worry about the retribution. Just about then, VampireZim switched from threats to pleading; now, he was saying, if we’d only stop shooting, he’d take back all the violent death threats and promise not to declare war on us. Otherwise, of course, we’d be wardecced into freakish misery, etc.

So we stopped shooting. And told Zim we’d accepted his generous peace offering.

About two minutes later (why were we still there? I have NO idea at this time), Zim’s Nighthawk (and yes, it was the first time any of us had seen one) came screaming out of warp and began trying to blow us all to hell, which apparently he had blinky red rights to do in consequence of our aggressive salvaging behavior in regards to his former assets.

We left, hurridly but in our ships. And contemplated our first lesson in EVE honor.

Eve honor, Lesson One: VampireZim does not have any.

Naturally, the smacktalk from Zim continued. Doomed, doomed, we were all to be eternally doomed. EVE was over for us. Zim and his big brothers and his ebil pirate friends and their mommas were all going to pod us repeatedly until the pod goo runs clear, or some such. I wish I had those chat logs. I was civil but unsympathetic, as I remember it. Zim probably remembers it differently.

Then came the first of many war declarations:

2006.06.22 08:35
Caldari Manufacturing Corp has declared war on Ironfleet Towing And Salvage.
After 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.

That was swiftly followed by an utterly ridiculous and somewhat extortionate demand for compensation:

I have declared war on your corp and you will be getting a second declaration from my sister pirate corp. This war will continue until you pay Caldari Manufacturing 250MILL ISK. Until then, we will hunt you no matter where you go, you and your 3 ALTS.

BTW, in our chat, when I mentioned re-embursment, I meant, on your part, not mine, moron. Your re-embursment is 250MILL, until then I hope you dont mind being shot at where ever you go.

See you in my sites.

The chat reference is to an exchange I no longer have, but I remember it; he said “Reimbursement WILL be paid” or something to that effect, to which I replied in an admittedly feeble attempt at humor: “Oh, you are going to reimburse us for the missiles we spent?”

Apparently he didn’t find this funny.

The “sister pirate corp” declaration was not far behind:

2006.06.22 08:53
Blood Raiders Dominion has declared war on Ironfleet Towing And Salvage.
After 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.

Now, the reasons I called the reimbursement demand “utterly ridiculous” are twofold. First, I believe the amount was way out of proportion to the damage we did. More to the point, I’d be surprised if Ironfleet Towing And Salvage had fifty million in total assets at that time. We couldn’t have paid if we wanted to, which we didn’t.

Second, as I told VampireZim, paying him anything at all was looking like a fool’s game, since he’d already broken his word once:

LOL, pretty funny — since you don’t honor your commitments, what possible advantage could there be to paying you “reimbursement”?

You already said you wouldn’t declare war, and accepted valuable consideration for that promise. If you break that promise, why would we assume you’d keep the next one, and end the war if we paid your demands?

Obviously, we can’t believe you. So, it will be a cold day in hell.

Cordially —

Marlenus

My skepticism seems to have been well-founded, because Zim’s very next email made it clear he never intended to honor his promise to drop the war if paid:

First of all why the fuck would I honor a promise to someone who has attacked and robbed me? I have declared war, the vote is on and in one day you will see everyone in my corp blinking red, just before your ship explodes.

Which turned out to be a grandiose promise. I think he got a target lock on me, once; but to this day I have never lost a ship. I did have an alt that one of his alts caught coming from Minmatar space in a shuttle; he blew the shuttle, caught the alt again in his reaper, and blew the reaper, podding the day-old alt. This is all the satisfaction VampireZim has ever had from Ironfleet Towing and Salvage.

More emails to demonstrate The Joy Of Zim. After the bizarre robbery allegation, I wrote:

Precision in language, my good man, is always valuable. We didn’t rob you — in fact, we didn’t remove an ounce of loot.

And as for why you would honor your commitments, only you can answer that. But if you *won’t* honor your commitments, it’s rather silly to offer your word a second time in regards to war termination, isn’t it?

— Marlenus

And he replied:

You did rob me, by destroying my property. Just because your a moron and didnt know you wouldnt gain anything is not my problem.

You have robbed me and I will get re-embursment or I will take it out in the destruction of your property.

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

You will pay, because eventually you will want to fly a better ship, unless you plan on quiting eve, you will eventually be flying ships that you WILL regret losing.

this conversation is over, pay or die.

To this day I am laughing over his ability to say “pay or die” in the same email as he says “I will not honor my word.” If he won’t honor his word, why on earth would anybody pay him? If it’s a choice between “die” and “pay AND die” I’d rather just die, thanks.

So I wrote back:

Well, as Fezzik the Giant said to the Sicilian: “I don’t think that word means what you think that word means.” You can’t be robbed if nothing is taken away, and we took nothing away.

I’ll admit, however, that you were rather heinously vandalized.

As for paying, it’s simply *not* going to happen. You’ve proven there’s no *point* in paying you anything — you admit you won’t honor your word, so what’s to stop you from taking the money and continuing all this pain you say you’re planning to visit upon us?

I’ll point out once again that you simply can’t hurt us — we don’t have anything that will hurt when it goes boom. You guys, on the other hand, do. (As I think was rather ably proven tonight.) So if the war goes on long enough, the odds are in our favor — however newbish we may be, we’re bound to get lucky eventually.

It’s entirely up to you, my young corpmates are looking forward to the war in any case. Me, I don’t much care. We aren’t flying *anything* that isn’t fully insured, and (perhaps you’ve forgotten) standard Tech I gear is really cheap. You simply can’t hurt us, no matter how many ships you pop. I figure you’ll get bored soon enough when you never find any juicy war targets.

Marlenus, over and out.

The conversation may have been over, but VampireZim was not done talking:

First of all I told you I am not a war corp, going to war with you is to defend my honor.

You will eventually be flying ships that are valuable. I welcome your attack on my POS now, I have had an army of BS attack my POS, a few frigs and cruisers arent going to stand a chance. So you see I have nothing to lose. Your entire corp could attack my one NIGHTHAWK and i would end you all. I dont intend to lose anything more.

There is no such thing as FULLY insured btw. Also insurance costs money.

Hehe, bored? NO doing missions day after day is boring, going to war is going to be FUN. Specially since I know its against a little pee on, it will be worth just seeing your ships pop in front of an audience.

It must be sad to be a man with no honor, who also can’t spell the word “peon.”

And that, really, is the last I ever heard from VampireZim. A week later, one more war dec:

2006.06.26 18:07
Murder-Death-Kill has declared war on Ironfleet Towing And Salvage.
After 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.

That one actually impressed me; at the time, Murder-Death-Kill had something of an impressive reputation as a mercenary corp. Zim had been doing a terrible job of finding us (except for the AFK alt in the shuttle); I thought maybe the MDK boys would be more dangerous. I believe the CEO, one Xaeon, did manage to get in the same system as me one time; but for the most part, they did not even try to bring it. (Zim and his many alts and associates, however, did spend a lot of time following me around with location agents.)

After another week, the first two wars expired for nonpayment of war bills, and MDK retracted theirs. I guess this was supposed to lull me into a false sense of security.

Two weeks later, two more wardecs:

2006.07.08 20:36
Caldari Manufacturing Corp has declared war on Ironfleet Towing And Salvage.
After 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.

2006.07.08 21:46
Blood Raiders Dominion has declared war on Ironfleet Towing And Salvage.
After 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.

These lasted three weeks before expiring for non-payment of the war bill.

The peace lasted three weeks, until the next outbreak of unprosecuted wardec Tourette’s Syndrome:

2006.08.23 09:56
Noobie Pirates Militia has declared war on Ironfleet Towing And Salvage.
After 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.

2006.08.23 10:02
Caldari Manufacturing Corp has declared war on Ironfleet Towing And Salvage.
After 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.

The Noobie Pirates Militia, it turns out, was founded by D34TH, one of the CLDRI boys in local tonight; although closed, it’s also visible in Max Threat’s employment history, and Max Threat is (if not a VampireZim alt) prone to logging in and logging out at the same time Zim does.

Those two wars lasted a week, no action, and were quietly canceled by Concord when the war bills went unpaid.

In all the time since, I’ve only had one conversation with VampireZim. I was in some new-to-me system looking for ore to salvage, and he saw me in local, said something to the effect of “get out of this system and stay out, or it’s war again.” Which made me laugh, seeing as how all seven previous wars had come to nothing, and also seeing as how I was only passing through.

So that’s it, the whole epic tale. Nine wars (by six different corps) later, and VampireZim has still not had his revenge. Which is why it says, right up there in the “About Ironfleet” page, that VampireZim drinks carrot juice.

The funny part about all of this is that Zim has a right to be aggrieved. But by breaking his word to us within ten seconds of the first time we ever saw him in local, he utterly destroyed any chance of a negotiated settlement for his legitimate grievance. Nine wardecs later, he’s still spending money chasing ancient grudges that he can’t possibly hope to settle.

I swear, Vampire Zim cannot seem to decide whether or not he wants to get his grudge on.

After Max Threat’s one failed attempt to gank me outside the station, today’s mail brings news that the 60 member Blood Raider’s Initiate (wasn’t it 80+ members a few days ago?) has withdrawn its war declaration against Ironfleet Towing and Salvage, a mere 35 hours after the war went live. Fighting (gank attempts?) stop tomorrow.

Ironfleet has and shorter and more uneventful wars, true. But not many.

In other news, VampireZim and two “Caldari State Militia” (CLDRI) henchpeople (D34TH, the original founder of BLOOD, and Kniteflite, a 2008 player who came to CLDRI from BLOOD) are in local as I type this.

Do you suppose tomorrow’s mail will bring a retraction of CLDRI’s war declaration without a shot fired?

This morning’s mail from Concord included a declaration of war from our old friends, the Blood Raiders Initiate (ticker BLOOD), one of the longtime haunts for VampireZim and his alts, associates, and split personalities. Interestingly, Zim himself has split off (as of five days ago) into a splinter corp (along with other known usual suspects) called Caldari State Militia (7 current members, ticker CLDRI).

I guess the “thinking” is that when Zim and crew spot me during faction warfare ops, they can call in the goon squads to gank me without having to muss their own precious State Protectorate standings. Which ought to be, uh, interesting, given the attitudes of some of the fleet commanders I fly with.

I promise a blog post in the next few days giving the complete and squalid history of Zim’s vendetta against Ironfleet Towing And Salvage. The first time it was command ships versus T1 fitted newb caracals. This time, things are not quite so uneven!

Update, day later: And here comes the wardec from Caldari State Militia, Zim’s current (FW-enrolled) corp. In other news, Max Threat from BLOOD was waiting for me outside the State Protectorate Logistics Office in Nourvokaiken, when I undocked in a suicide Caracal (irony). Although he was in an Ishtar with drones hot, I was able to redock OK. Then he camped me while I ate my dinner, which I always enjoy.

So there I was, sniffing around the Nourv/Tama gate in a fast-locking Manticore stealth bomber, watching the traffic flow in an attempt to decide whether it was safe to jump through.

Gate fires, there’s an admonishment to criminals, and suddenly there’s a flashy red pirate sitting there in a gallente shuttle.

Control-click. Lock. One cruise missile. Boom.

Hey, look, a pod. Control-click. Lock. Cruise missile. Boom.

Mail? Why do I have mail? From Concord?

“For your termination of Nuttsauce we have paid you the bounty that was set to his head: 10,720,000 ISK.”

My first ever EVE bounty! Very cool.

I’ve never been a fan of flashy red pirates — something to do with the unfortunate loss of my first caracal — and in my experience, players with stupid sex-related jokes for names tend to be assholes. So I think I did the world a favor collecting that bounty. Then I checked the bio, and found some racist bullshit in there. All in all, an excellent expenditure of Caldari Navy cruise missiles!

I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about exactly why Ironfleet Towing And Salvage is not a fan of VampireZim, the notorious carrot juice drinker and wearer of feminine undergarments. For now, it suffices to say he was the first serious asshole we encountered in Eve. (To be fair, we did him an injury first, so he, too, would be justified in holding a grudge.)

I was a little bit dismayed to notice the other day that he’s joined the Caldari militia.

So today, I was undocking as he was docking, me in a disposable Caracal (same thing I was flying when first we met, though I thought more highly of it then) and him in his Crow. He locks me, in high sec. Yeah, yeah, “and a friendly greeting to you, too.”

For the next five minutes he followed me around, keeping me locked. I was loaded for small targets and I was really hoping he’d be foolish enough to pull the trigger, but sadly, no.

Then I looked at militia chat. Hmm, who do you suppose was being talked about?

VampireZIM > can you shoot other militia people in high sec? can you shoot them in low sec?
jameszhao55 > yes to both
Vibenation 2 > yes
VampireZIM > really? so its like being in the same corp then?
The Balance > yes.
jameszhao55 > no wardecced
Vibenation 2 > well more like war target
The Balance > same thing in this situation.
VampireZIM > i mean, same militia, not war targets
VampireZIM > so let me get this straight, you can fire on other state militia in secure space?
Steve Celeste > duh
Steve Celeste > its a war
Tiger K > sigh
VampireZIM > steve, you know what STATE MILITIA is?
Tiger K > the question is can a member of state protectorate, as in the caldari militia, fire upon another member of the CALDARI militia in highsec
Krall Amarr > No tiger
Isikana > nop
Tiger K > there vampire :p
VampireZIM > ok, thats what i thought, so its like a regular alliance
Isikana > -sec loss, -cal state stanging loss for engaging a fellow militia member

I have a confession to make.

After two years in EVE, until night before last I still didn’t have a jump clone. Expensive implants? Yes. (Why do you think I was so hell-bent on not getting caught during the INDY war?) But no jump clone.

It was a pride and faction thing, mostly. I don’t like doing missions well enough to grind the faction, and I love Ironfleet too much to take an employment history excursion into a high-faction corp. Besides, living and salvaging exclusively in high-sec, the only pod risk was during the odd war. It was never really an issue.

But, on the off chance that FW might turn out to be fun, I started doing missions for the first time about two months ago. (Don’t mistake me — I’ve seen missions, I spent months and months flying logistics ships for a friend in his level fours. But I’d never run my own.)

Missions went swiftly (especially level twos) in my Cerberus. But I never did more than about three a day, they were just too boring.

So along comes faction warfare. Jim was having great fun blowing up Thrashers in a big blob, so I decided it was time to get my damned clone and go get in on the fun. Sunday, I powered through a metric fuck-ton of missions. I got close, but not close enough. Then on Monday, I did as many more as I could find time for, and late Monday night, I finally broke 8.04, bought a jump clone, and jumped into it.

I immediately (yesterday) grabbed one of my old logistics Osprey fits from my mission-support days, and went out on fleet ops with RapidTaco and Boromor. Got in one good fleet fight with The Taco, he was primaried and calling for shields, and I was feeding them. It was fun. Who knew?

The other converging factor here is that Ironfleet is very flush right now. Remember when armor plates were useless salvage items? Selling for 200 ISK to speculators? Well, let’s just say that Ironfleet speculated heavily in “worthless” armor plates, then sat on them after the rig recipes were fixed to use them again, then sold them (a lot of them) when the price looked to be peaking between 150k and 160k ISK. All in all it was a speculation that unfolded over most of a year, but it was very very profitable. For the first time in my EVE career, I can afford to fly some nice ships into stupid situations and watch them go kaboom.

So, late last night and early this morning, I pulled one of my fancy rigged Basilisk TII logistics cruisers out of mothballs. I tweaked the fittings a bit, jumped it down to Nourv, and found RapidTaco pulling together a fleet. We headed out, chasing intel reports of various enemy concentrations. About an hour into the fleet OP, he asked us whether we’d like to go touristing into 0.0, which was nearby.

As it happens, we very much would like. And so, we did.

Somebody even said “Yarr!” (Possibly, that happened more than once, I couldn’t comment.)

If you told me, as recently as two weeks ago, that in two weeks I’d be sitting in my very expensive logistics cruiser in a sixty man fleet in zero-frickin’-zero, conducting military operations that were superficially similar in appearance to a 0.0 gate camp, I would have told you to stop smoking the crack cocaine. And yet, there I was, and it was cool.

I’m deliberately being a little bit vague about where we went, why we went there, and what we did. You’ll have to cope with that. Trust me, it was fun. And then we got word of a Gallente fleet, so we moved very rapidly in an attempt to, shall we say, insert ourselves up their pipe from the rear, if you catch my meaning and I think you do. Sadly, they scattered like baby rabbits when we hit their system, although we did catch and destroy two Dominix battleships.

We never got a big fleet fight, so none of the heavies on my watch list ever got primaried nor needed shield repair. I did minor shield touchups, mostly. But we did have a Kitsune who got taken into structure, and although I was too slow to help him during the fight, my armor repair drones were able to give him a full armor restoration in the field.

Word is that as we were going out, Boromor’s fleet was just coming back from a triumphant day in which they killed a dreadnaught, jumped some heavies into Gallente high sec to kill a gang on the gate, and then took an entire fleet of disposeable caracals into Gallente high sec, getting many more valuable kills from the surprised and outraged denizens.

I don’t know how I’d feel about it if I didn’t have more ISK to play with than usual, but right now I’ve got to say, this factional warfare stuff is being a whole lot of fun.

Hey everybody, Jim finally figured out how to use a killboard, and then posted all his FW wins and losses (although he says he’s lost at least one more destroyer than the killboard shows). So far he’s been in on an impressive 27 kills, although most of these are vessels that got excessively primaried. (For instance, Jim pumped carbonized lead into a Heavy Interdictor along with 48 other people, doing three percent of the dealt damage).

My favorite item on his killboard list so far is a noobie ship loss he never even mentioned to me. Apparently he was returning home in his reaper when he stopped to salvage some wrecks in the best tradition of Ironfleet. A Cormorant destroyer caught him well off the gate with his pants around his ankles, so to speak, and he was blown up and podded. With (and this is the good part) sixteen million ISK worth (killboard pricing) of freshly salvaged nanite paste and Caldari Navy ammo in the cargo hold of his free reaper.

Today he went with an expeditionary fleet in support of Amarr operations against the Minmitar. However, he says Amarr fleet command were a bunch of elitist pricks in the best royal fashion, refusing to talk to the Caldari volunteers on Eve Voice and insisting that fleet members download and install supplementary voice chat software under combat conditions. And they were excessively rude about it, to boot.

The operation went bad around Auga. Jim got pounded to scrap by a Caracal (destroyers and heavy missiles do not mix) and the fleet seemed (to Jim) well on its way to annihilation when Jim lagged out and crashed to desktop. He escaped in his noobship and made no effort to rejoin the fleet, which was apparently retreating to Amarr space in very poor order. Gee, I wonder if that could have anything to do with fleet leadership refusing to use the one comms system every Eve pilot is guaranteed to have?

Returning to the Caldari lines near Tama, Jim hopped in another destroyer and went out with a fifty-ship fleet on a long combat patrol that met and crushed (meaning, killed a bunch and made the rest scatter) two different Gallente fleets of comparable size. Jim ended up jumping home four times with salvage, including what looks to me like about fifty million isk worth of Tech II guns and mods.

As for me, I took a Bustard-load of Condors (ten of ’em) down to the front lines, fitted them all out with T1 tackle fits, named them Ironfleet Tackler #1 through Ironfleet Tackler #10, and started advertising them for free in local to anybody who wanted to get back into the Tama fight. Got a lot of scepticism in local but gave away five of them, and also got some thanks and donations of fittings for making more. Ironfleet will be doing more of that in future, it’s the least we can do to pay back for some of the rich salvage that comes home from Jim’s fleet fights.

I am actually pretty proud of those free Condors. T1 to be sure, but they come equipped with overdrive, afterburner, warp disruptor, two missile launchers, Bloodclaw missiles, and a salvager. (You were expecting something else from Ironfleet?) To accommodate different preferences and skill levels, the folks who asked for one of these also got (in cargo) a pair of rocket launchers, some rockets, a warp scrambler, a webber, a small shield booster, and a 2nd-best-named 75mm gun with antimatter ammo to swap into the high slot where I fitted the salvager. It’s no uber pwnmobile, no, but it beats the pants off an Ibis with a Civilian Gatling Gun, and if there’s ever been a fleet commander who said “No more, I’ve got too many tacklers” I haven’t heard of it.

One other logistics contribution I’m making to the Caldari war effort is to try and stock some common modules and ammo on the Nourvokaken market, which is very shallow and badly supplied. I’ve heard some complaints about my pricing, because I’m deliberately putting everything up at (as near as I can tell) about twice the regional market price. The idea is simple — if you’ve got the time, please go get what you need in Jita. But if you’re in a raging hurry to fit out a ship so you can get back to the fight RIGHT NOW, my overpriced modules will be available as a convenience. This is not about the ISK — I could sell 10,000-ISK T1 mods for 20K until Hell froze over and the gross profits wouldn’t buy me another Bustard or anything else I care about — but about making sure that the items are there for the people who need them in a hurry. I simply don’t have the mineral or haulage resources to flood the market with enough modules to make a difference at market pricing; Ironfleet is not really an industrial corp despite my dabblings in the market.

Still, if any in the militia buys modules from Marlenus and is upset about the “war profiteering” prices, please send me an Evemail and tell me how much ISK you want back. If it’s a reasonable estimate of the amount you’ve “overpaid” for instant convenience, I’ll be happy to refund it as part of my patriotic contribution to the Caldari war effort.

Jim here. As a Minmatar with Caldari loyalties (well, not really; my only loyalty is to Ironfleet, but I live in Caldari space and consider it my home) I was amused this morning to see this thread in which various butthurt-sounding 0.0 alliance types scoffed at the Caldari militia for having tangled with the Red Alliance. Supposedly they are a bunch of nasty 0.0 types, but I never heard of them until militia FC Boromor pounded three of their carriers into space scrap. Anyway, the thread quickly filled with prophecies of doom to befall the Caldari militia, and especially with warnings that we need to quickly learn all the 0.0 politics so that we don’t “aggress” alliance operations by our very presence in “their” low-sec systems.

I don’t got much truck with politics, so I posted this:

Hi, I’m Jim Bridger. I’m an empire guy. I don’t know squat about alliance politics or “the rules”. Nor care.

After a few days in FW it’s clear to me that popular FW fleet commanders are going to wield the power (inside their area of operations) of old-fashioned barbarian kings. People like me will flock to their banners so long as they are winning and making the fleet operations fun. And we pretty much will follow them anywhere, and shoot at whatever they tell us, so long as it stays fun.

Last night FC Boromir (not sure about spelling so I gave him the heroic one) screwed up and told us all to jump through a gate that turned out to lead into Gallente highsec. We jumped. (This “we jumped” being the key information in this story.)

The FC cursed, apologized, organized our withdrawal under Gallente faction navy fire, stood at the gate tanking the Navy until he had all his peeps out that were getting out, and promised to take care of the (astonishingly few) casualties. He’s an instant legend for taking down the RA carriers, he will have a hundred-man blob to play with any night he cares to say “x up” in Nourv local. We, the newbs of the Caldari militia, will follow him anywhere and shoot what he tells us. We won’t care about the politics, because we’ve got nothing to lose and because it’s fun.

There will be other FCs like him. They will be accountable to no one but the people in their blob. Their power will ebb and flow, but the good ones will always have a fleet. And the more famous they are, the more expensive will be the ships people will be willing to risk under their command. I’ve been bringing T1 thrashers because that’s what I can afford to lose forever. But my effectiveness has been low. I’m starting to think, what can I bring that this FC needs and will use?

My advice for the alliance diplomats? Identify the popular FCs and bribe them, or reach an accomodation. Boromir would (I’m just guessing) love to have a thousand fitted t1 cruisers sitting in a hangar in Nourv — the alliance who delivered that would get a lot of consideration from him during FW operations, I’m guessing.

I was skeptical about FW, but the more I see of it, the more delighted I get. CCP has upset the applecart in lowsec, but done it in a way that leaves lots of room for delightful chaos, astonishing events, and epic fun.

The post got a couple of positive comments, but I was really surprised by the convo I got in game. A benefactor hailed me, complimented the post, asked a bit about my ship preferences and skills, then told me he was “cooking up” a large number of Thrashers for me, to be delivered tomorrow. He also deposited more than sufficient ISK into my wallet for me to fit them. So it looks like I won’t need to be scrounging the Ironfleet hangars quite so hard!

I thanked him nicely and promised to explode all of those thrashers in Caldari service. Which, I expect, I shall — although I did join three different fleets for sweeps through Gallente space today without losing a ship. No killmails either, but I did put carbonized lead into several expensive enemies, and earn some victory points in Minor Facilities also.

So I was looking at Jim’s FW “kills” in the corp tab for such things — I haven’t seen too many killmails with lots of parties, and I was enjoying the stories they tell. Right before Jim lost his second destroyer, he did some of the shooty shooty on a rifter –and it dropped faction loot! Somebody got a good Gisti Afterburner scoop right about the time Jim went kaboom:

2008.06.12 05:00:00

Victim: Evelynn117
Corp: Kadokura Explorations
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Gallente Federation
Destroyed: Rifter
System: Heydieles
Security: 0.3
Damage Taken: 2143

Involved parties:

Name: Sol Mortis
Security: -1.2
Corp: An Heroes
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Kestrel
Weapon: Warp Scrambler II
Damage Done: 721

Name: Thilonys
Security: -0.1
Corp: State Protectorate
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Huginn
Weapon: Huginn
Damage Done: 644

Name: Jim Bridger (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.2
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Thrasher
Weapon: 250mm Light Carbine Howitzer I
Damage Done: 558

Name: Saijax
Security: 0.4
Corp: Vivicide
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Kestrel
Weapon: ‘Malkuth’ Standard Missile Launcher I
Damage Done: 220

Destroyed items:

Fusion S, Qty: 1381 (Cargo)
Warp Disruptor II
EMP S, Qty: 715 (Cargo)
EMP S, Qty: 108
Small Armor Repairer II
200mm Reinforced Crystalline Carbonide Plates I
Hail S, Qty: 2000 (Cargo)

Dropped items:

200mm AutoCannon II, Qty: 3
Gistii B-Type 1MN Afterburner
F-M3 Munition Inertial Suspensor
Titanium Sabot S, Qty: 973 (Cargo)
EMP S, Qty: 54
Salvager I
Patterned Stasis Web I
Initiated Warp Jammer I (Cargo)

Nobody warned me people would be bringing faction-fitted ships to this turkey shoot! Suddenly the impromptu bit of combat zone salvage I was doing tonight in my blockade runner doesn’t seem quite so crazy.

Here are the other killmails Jim got in his first day of FW, oddly enough the same Velator pilot three different times:

2008.06.12 04:57:00

Victim: Modz nGunz
Corp: Avignon Associates Inc.
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Gallente Federation
Destroyed: Capsule
System: Heydieles
Security: 0.3
Damage Taken: 378

Involved parties:

Name: Tyi Ko’rrin
Security: -0.4
Corp: State Protectorate
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Crow
Weapon: Caldari Navy Bloodclaw Light Missile
Damage Done: 170

Name: Helsir Qyrdun
Security: 4.6
Corp: Electro Fuels
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Rifter
Weapon: 200mm AutoCannon I
Damage Done: 86

Name: Jim Bridger (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.2
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Thrasher
Weapon: 250mm Light Carbine Howitzer I
Damage Done: 76

Name: Natasha Zenith
Security: 1.7
Corp: State Protectorate
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Light Ion Blaster I
Damage Done: 46

Name: Mustafa Alear
Security: 1.0
Corp: Darkness Inc.
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Kestrel
Weapon: OE-5200 Rocket Launcher
Damage Done: 0

Name: flakko
Security: 2.4
Corp: Heaven’s Avatars
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Merlin
Weapon: Merlin
Damage Done: 0

2008.06.12 04:31:00

Victim: Modz nGunz
Corp: Avignon Associates Inc.
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Gallente Federation
Destroyed: Velator
System: Heydieles
Security: 0.3
Damage Taken: 410

Involved parties:

Name: Jim Bridger (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.2
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Thrasher
Weapon: 250mm Light Carbine Howitzer I
Damage Done: 294

Name: Sasha Contovis
Security: 4.9
Corp: Electro Fuels
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Enyo
Weapon: 150mm Railgun II
Damage Done: 116

Name: Mustafa Alear
Security: 1.0
Corp: Darkness Inc.
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Kestrel
Weapon: Warp Disruptor I
Damage Done: 0

Name: Natasha Zenith
Security: 1.7
Corp: State Protectorate
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Fleeting Warp Scrambler I
Damage Done: 0

Name: trilock
Security: 0.8
Corp: State Protectorate
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Kestrel
Weapon: Standard Missile Launcher I
Damage Done: 0

Name: Oziumentisis
Security: 4.4
Corp: The Blade of Xiphos
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Caracal
Weapon: Indirect Scanning Dampening Unit I
Damage Done: 0

Destroyed items:

Tritanium (Cargo)

Dropped items:

Basic Miner
Civilian Light Electron Blaster

2008.06.11 21:02:00

Victim: Modz nGunz
Corp: Avignon Associates Inc.
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Gallente Federation
Destroyed: Velator
System: Oinasiken
Security: 0.2
Damage Taken: 431

Involved parties:

Name: Jim Bridger (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.2
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Caldari State
Ship: Thrasher
Weapon: 280mm Prototype I Siege Cannon
Damage Done: 431

Destroyed items:

Tritanium (Cargo)
Civilian Light Electron Blaster

Dropped items:

Basic Miner

Jim Bridger here again. Went out tonight in a second disposable destroyer, and this time I hooked up with the militia fleet that had spent half the day trying to get into Tama. The camp inside Tama tried an assault into Caldari hi sec just before I got there, leaving a ton of wrecks behind. Our fleet headed into Gallente space to capture some stuff, while Marlenus came on behind in one of his Cranes to pick up some salvage.

This was my first time ever moving with a fleet or using EVE voice, and I was clearly not the only one. Our commander was calm and clear, but suffering from lack of intel and from our poor coordination. Nonetheless, we cleared some FW objectives (we were light on small ships so I got to clear and capture a Gallente “minor facility” pretty much alone), shot a couple of random pirates who came sniffing too close to the fleet, picked off some out-of-position Gallente scum, and then (eventually) let ourselves get “found” by the OPFOR fleet.

That was my first big fleet battle, and it was chaos, but I did most of the damage on a rifter and helped pop the same “bait newbie” that lured me in earlier in the day (apparently he was working as bait and scout for the main Gallente fleet — no wonder I got pwned!) After that I got blown up again, but escaped in my pod. I’m not sure how the fleet battle ended, because I had to quit shortly thereafter and never got the intel.

All in all, it was a fun experience despite not having much obvious point. I did however salvage all the wrecks I came near, and Marlenus picked up a ton of stuff from the failed excursion out of Tama. In addition to quite a bit of T1 shipgear, we got four expensive pieces of T2 gear and six (!) bits of T2 salvage from player wrecks — more than enough, Mar says, to cover the cost of the ships I lost today.

Fleet combat turns out to be surprisingly fun, even when it’s chaotic and disorganized. I’m not sure I’d want to do it every night, but it was a refreshing change of pace.

Interestingly, there were a lot of pirates and Alliance guys sniffing around our FW operations, but they were for the most part flying smart and staying out of our way. Our guys were pretty trigger-happy, and we popped several neutrals just for making the fleet commander nervous. I really think that if there are militia fleets conducting regular operations in low sec from now on (and I’m pretty sure there will be, with or without rewards), the character of low-sec has just changed dramatically. The pirates won’t be going away, but their risk factor just skyrocketed, which means they’ll have to dial back on their WTFuberPWN shipfits and fly with a lot more humility and care. Result: more opportunity in lowsec for regular folks.