On about my third quick visit to the EVE universe today, I finally came upon a war target. During my usual salvage sweep of the belts, I came upon Garrikk of AC-ME mining, in a cruiser, with a jet can and a couple of combat drones out. Perfect! Just the sort of normal AC-ME member Chebri’s split-off was designed to protect. (And, thus, just the sort of target the Ironfleet war declaration was aimed at.)

Returning to the belt at comfortable cruise missile range, I uncloaked and let fly with the missiles. The first volley took Garrikk into armor. This was looking promising.

Unfortunately for the exercise of my very modest blood lust, Garrikk was alert and hot on the emergency warp button. Fortunately for him, he was gone before the second volley landed.

No matter, the name of this game is area denial, and he’s not mining here any more.

Checking local, I saw that Chebri had just appeared in system. Assuming that she is still sharing com channels with AC-ME, I figured that salvaging the jet can of ore was likely to be unduly tricky. So I blew it up (to deny it to the enemy), moved to a comfortable observation position, and cloaked.

I will admit that it pained me to explode perfectly good ore. But it made a lovely explosion.

About ten seconds later (and no more than forty or fifty seconds after the action ended) Chebri arrived in a battle cruiser. “Intelligence, that’s a roger on the sharing of com channels, make a note please?” Hanging a very careful 200 kilometers from the belt, she surveyed the empty system. Then, after some minutes, she warped closer to the belt (and further from me) and deployed ECM drones.

Whereupon we played the waiting game together. (That’s sort of like having lunch with Pancho Villa, but less nutritious.) Eventually, she grew bored of it, collected her drones, and left.

By that time, Garrikk had logged off. Excellent — one miner dissuaded from mining tonight. And, there were no further AC-ME targets in system. So I unfurled the day’s “Mission Accomplished” banner across the flight deck of my carrier (don’t I just wish) and called it a successful war outing.

An anonymous commenter suggested (albeit with a question mark and a smile) that for me, EVE is about “screwing with the community.” To be honest, I find that a bizarre proposition.

I don’t see what I do as screwing with anybody. Do we talk about pirates (who are a much rougher bunch doing a lot more damage than I ever have, while laughing at the misery they strew down their own wakes) as screwing with communities? Not really, they’re just considered a force of nature to be dealt with. People don’t like them, but their play choices are recognized as legitimate.

I know EVE’s not really a role-playing game, but people adopt minor roleplaying elements to enhance their enjoyment. And that’s the story of Ironfleet in a nutshell. When we started this game, folks were doing missions at the stargates and leaving vast “canstellations” of uncollected loot. Scooping that stuff up (often under the guns of the battleships that were still finishing the mission) was the funnest thing we found to do as complete noobs flying cheap frigates. Most of us have gone on to more normal professions, but I’m the die-hard hard core. I still enjoy prospecting for loose stuff, and then securing it and removing it. Flying exotically-fitted cargo ships, finding stuff that’s not nailed down, scooping stuff up (and dealing with all the fallout and consequences and diplomatic excitement that results) is still the most fun I’ve found in this game. There’s nothing in this game that compares, for me, with the satisfaction of finding a ton of unanchored Giant Secure Cans in a belt, coming out in my fully rigged and expanded Bustard, and scooping them ten at a time, peaceful as you please. If there’s a mining operation going on around me and a bunch of screaming people discovering for the first time that you have to anchor your giant secure cans to make them “secure”, that’s a bonus. But it’s not necessary to my fun, and it’s not why I do it. I do it because I want the cans, and whatever is in them. Taking them back to my hangar is how I, personally, feel I’m “winning at EVE”.

So, that’s what Ironfleet does. We’re not in it to mess with people, it’s just that sometimes people feel messed with because what we do is relatively rare and (at least the way we do it) unexpected.

The current war, like our previous ones, is just part of the process. We see the war fee against INDY as an investment in our future. People have to understand that they can’t get away with carrying on industrial operations normally, mining dumb fat and happy in unescorted mining barges, while spinning off a few combat pilots to “punish” Ironfleet while exposing no juicy assets to conflict.

On average I was pulling one shipload of ore out of an AC-ME mining operation every other day or so. It would have been much cheaper for them to have accepted the status quo, rather than sending Chebri after me. This war is intended to help them understand that, and it should accomplish that goal even if I don’t have a single combat success.

Yesterday, being a party day, I didn’t spend online much. Nor did the INDY opponents, except for elements of their combat arm.

I spent some time in Isaziwa with nobody much hostile in system. Salvaged a bit of ore from an unrelated party, just to keep my hand in. Then went and talked to a locater agent to inquire about the whereabouts of the known mining characters. All the ones I checked were docked in Isaz except for one who was in Inoue, but he vamoosed as soon as I hit local.

Being bored, I set up an Observator probe to look for abandoned ships in deep safes. (People used to leave the most amazing stuff floating loose in space, back before probes were improved.) All I found was an abandoned Condor frigate, sadly. Chebri showed up in system while I was probing, but since I was working in a cloaked ship, I just ignored her and she eventually went away. It’s projects like this which ensure that Ironfleet remains a going concern no matter how many wars we have going.

Last night after posting about the new war I logged in and undocked. I’ll tell you now what I said in local then:

“The sky! It’s full of stars!”

The INDY folk had assembled a substantial fleet and was camped outside my station. Somewhere between six or ten pilots, plus many drones, gave me an overview that was full of angry red stars.

Needless to say, I redocked.

The banter in local was pleasant and friendly, except for one AC-ME representative who tried to tell me that the previous night’s mining operations had not been disrupted by the war.

I asked politely: “Does AC-ME always escort each Retriever mining barge with a battle cruiser and an interceptor?”

That line of bluster was not heard further.

Needless to say, I was camped in pretty solid. Jim Bridger, however, got undocked and led several of the combat pilots on a merry chase out of the system. I’m told Chebri also had an encounter with one of Ironfleet’s younger members, and chased him into Jita where he lost her amidst the general chaos. Later, he encountered two members of INDY who chased him fruitlessly through several systems.

Today, when I logged in, there was only one hostile (in a battleship!) camped outside my station. So I got out and am now flying free in Isaziwa, looking for trouble to cause. Only one hostile in system just now (a different one), and he looks to be docked.

So asks an anonymous person posing as an AC-ME diplomat.

As is clear from the various comments below, Ironfleet is currently in a state of war with AC-ME and their alliance (Independent Federation, short name INDY).

Ironfleet declared the war, after sending a diplomatic correspondence to AC-ME that went 48 hours unanswered. (Real life happens, no fault of AC-ME. But I felt it could not wait.)

Our grievance against AC-ME (who, truth be told, we still like rather a lot) is that they seem to be the driving force behind Chebri’s war. Accounts vary, and perhaps it’s not so. But Chebri herself has said that protecting AC-ME was her motive for launching this war, and AC-ME has been supporting the war and flying with her against me.

Whatever the history, I suspect that AC-ME has influence over Chebri’s actions, should it choose to exercise that influence.

Thus, our war aims are simple — to put pressure on AC-ME while avoiding undue losses. When Chebri’s war ends, I would expect to feel no further need to pursue AC-ME, the real party in interest in that war. Unless of course the war is going unexpectedly well for Ironfleet — but that’s not the way to bet. Putting it mildly.

In the first day of war AC-ME, there were no losses on either side, nor shots fired. However, it was not business as usual for the typically extensive AC-ME mining operations in Isaziwa. During the first few hours after the war went active, the relatively young mining characters were elsewhere or offline, and there were at times as many as eight fairly senior combat pilots observed in system from AC-ME and allied corporations. One Retriever mining barge was observed mining under the close escort of a battlecruiser, with the accompaniment of a third pilot in an interceptor when hauling ore to the station. Mining it may have been, but it looked pretty symbolic to me.

Updates as events warrant.

There are new diplomatic developments on another front, of which more tomorrow.

The new developments kept my attention fully in one system tonight, and I never saw Chebri there, so I, personally, have no news of that war to share.

However, a young corpmate of mine was at another Ironfleet office this evening, fitting up some ships with which to join in the excitement, when he noted an abandoned ship floating derelict some 75km away from our office. It belonged to Chebri… briefly.

Now it’s in our hangar, and the one unit of Tritanium it carried added to our stores. For it was indeed an Ibis (apparently Chebri met with a misfortune at some point recently, presumably at the hands of some other enemy), and now it’s both salvage and plunder.

Salvage is salvage, and if it formerly belonged to an enemy, so much the sweeter!

Howdy, folks. No real war developments tonight — I am traveling, and the hotel internet / business laptop combo doesn’t really support EVE at the level needed when there’s war in the air. But I did log in to tend to some diplomatic matters.

One thing I didn’t get a chance to blog about yesterday was a long and public conversation with Memm Nock, a member of UNDER-OATH (from whom the unexplained war dec was received yesterday). The conversation was mostly civil, but not particularly friendly. Memm called me a “no0b” (perhaps fairly, in reference to matters martial) and mocked my part of the action in Chebri’s little war with lots of comments like “lol” and “lmao”. And of course, like virtually all new aggressors, he puffed himself up in an attempt to scare his intended prey. Samples, deliberately presented out of context to avoid tedium:

[ 02:23:31 ] Memm Nock > well I can afford the dec for about a year sooo
[ 02:23:36 ] Memm Nock > :)

[ 02:28:22 ] Memm Nock > you can only run so far, and luck always runs out

[ 02:44:50 ] Memm Nock > We Are a PVP Corp
[ 02:45:00 ] Memm Nock > Its what we do
[ 02:45:08 ] Memm Nock > We’ll find you eventually

You’ve seen it before, you get the idea, it’s very big, we understand. But what was interesting was the part where I suggested Memm’s client might get bored or run out of money. This was a shot in the dark, but a reasonable one, since I’ve never heard of these folks before, and usually that’s a sign of mercenaries infesting the woodwork. Memm first claimed to be the client (which makes no sense) and then very kindly told me (or let slip, it’s not clear which) some info from which I was able to deduce the identity of the genuinely aggrieved party. That’s always useful (usually because the genuinely aggrieved party tends to have fat juicy industrial targets), which I said, and then I thanked Memm for the useful intel.

Fast forward. Tonight when I log in, I find this mail from the same Memm Nock:

2007.12.28 21:06
Greetings,

As you Know We are currently War Decing your Corporation. However Due to Diffrences in opinions and Actions. We Are Now Standing Down. The War Doc will stay active for 6 days. But My Members are Ordered Not To Engage any IRONFLEET Members, Unless Engaged. This War Dec wasn’t anything Personal ( We Don’t Even Know Who You Are) So Please Dont take it as such.

Fly Safe and Good Day,

Respectfully,

UNDER-OATH

I’ve replied, suggesting that Ironfleet will honor the proposed armistice unless we are given a good reason not to, but proposing that for safety the war dec be revoked. There seems to be an awful lot of scope for error and confusion, while wandering around “at war” but in a state of supposed cease fire.

That said, I’m not sure how to take this. It’s a radical change in tone, suggesting a change of heart on someone’s part. But of course, it’s a bizarre sort of armistice — why not just revoke the war dec if war is no longer desired?

My skeptical side wonders whether it’s intended as a trap, to lull us into a false sense of security. But that seems sort of pointless when Ironfleet has other active wars that will keep us at military alert levels.

I also wonder whether there’s some sort of factional politics or corporate disarray going on — whether, perhaps, the true party in interest is fearful of retaliation and wants no hostilities, but lacks the “pull” to get the voting parties to revoke the dec. I suppose it’s at least possible.

And then there’s “no0b” confusion to consider. Since I haven’t been an aggressor in any wars, it’s possible I am wrong about an aggressor’s ability to revoke a war at will. Equally possible, but seemingly unlikely, is that I’m right about that, but some no0b on the other side doesn’t know about it?

It will be interesting to see how that plays out. Meanwhile, “We Don’t Even Know Who You Are” goes right at the top of my new “Top 10 List Of Favorite Reasons To Make Peace With One’s Enemies”.

Updates as events warrant!

UPDATE:

Two new Evemails seem to point the finger at no0b confusion. First from Memm Nock:

2007.12.29 04:09
Hi, Marlenus.

Once a War Dec Has Passed Sanctions, and Has Been Applied. it lasts for 7 Days. After which Concord will issue a bill for prolonged War Efforts. If This Bill is not met on the eve of the End of the War Dec. then the war is cancled.

An Order Has Been Passed to all Members of UNDER-OATH. I.E. : IRONFLEET Will Not Be Engaged, Unless Engaged Apone.

During this period, UNDER-OATH Will Remain Out Of Your HQ & Office Systems, To Honor the Stand Down.

Respectfully

UNDER-OATH

Followed by a more sensible one from Concord:

2007.12.29 04:11
The war between UNDER-OATH and Ironfleet Towing And Salvage is coming to an end. UNDER-OATH has retracted the war against Ironfleet Towing And Salvage. The war will be declared as being over after approximately 24 hours.

“Not with a bang, but a whimper!”

I’m starting to suspect Chebri of growing frustrated; it seems that in every exchange with her, her smack gets less articulate. Tonight (after the last post) she started having to censor her own vowels.

It went like this. I was back in the game, flying around in a fast frigate making bookmarks of military utility. I noticed local flashing, had a look, and discovered that Chebri was trolling it with smacktalk:

[ 02:12:20 ] Chebri > isn’t it funny…
[ 02:12:39 ] Chebri > bullies think they’re all bad and push people around…
[ 02:12:48 ] Chebri > but then…
[ 02:12:52 ] Chebri > when the heat is on
[ 02:12:56 ] Chebri > they can’t take it
[ 02:13:00 ] Chebri > run n hide
[ 02:13:05 ] Chebri > chicken sh*t
[ 02:14:14 ] Chebri > steal from people
[ 02:14:26 ] Chebri > ruin someone else’s day…ha ha fun n games
[ 02:14:37 ] Chebri > but when the situation is reversed…
[ 02:14:47 ] Chebri > cry in a blog

Honestly, up until I saw the last line, I wasn’t even sure she was talking about me. But the blog seemed fairly likely to refer to this one, even if I don’t remember crying here.

I’m happy to leave local smack to my enemies, but this seemed like a good opportunity to advertise the blog and let folks decide for themselves about the crying:

[ 02:15:49 ] Marlenus > Cry? Ironfleet.com, folks, judge for yourself. For smacktalk, listen to Chebri.

And then, suddenly, things got interesting.

Allow me to digress. In the history of this blog, I’ve only deleted one comment (spams excluded). That one, I found in the moderation queue this morning (all first-time commenters are held in moderation until I’ve had time to review the comment.) It consisted of some anti-salvager propaganda, rather rudely stated. By itself, I might have passed it on through moderation, for entertainment purposes. But the commenter was too chickenshit (to use Chebri’s phrase, with all its vowels) to leave their EVE identity, plus they left a false email featuring the infamous old goatse.cs anal stretching domain, plus they provided (as their blog link) a link to the charming “two girls, one cup” scat-eating video that’s all the rage among the YouTube generation this week. Taken as a whole, the comment didn’t seem worth publishing.

For future reference, I’ll publish almost anything you readers want to say, negative commentary on Ironfleet included, if you use your active EVE pilot name and keep it civil. But this is my blog; I’m not going to let anonymous cowards insult me using my own bandwidth. Get your own blog for that, k thnx bye.

Now, about those anonymous cowards. Want to know what Chebri’s very next words in local were, after the quote above?

[ 02:16:19 ] Chebri > it’s a blog
[ 02:16:27 ] Chebri > he’s the only one allowed to speak – he deleted comments
[ 02:16:35 ] Chebri > his own pedestal

PWNed, Chebri, you’ve been pwned and outed as the anonymous coward in question.

After that, the smack got fairly dull. Chebri, like a lot of combat pilots, likes to throw insults around in an attempt to get some action. I prefer to keep things nice and dull, so we discussed that for awhile. Nobody seems to understand that courage in a salvage pilot is an expensive luxury that eats away profit margins. If I’m shooting, it’s because I expect to win, or I’m reasonably confident I can escape. Chebri in particular kept trying to spin her trip to structure as an ignominious moment for me:

[ 02:19:50 ] Chebri > yeah…yer docked and can’t go steal
[ 02:19:59 ] Marlenus > Er, I’m not docked….
[ 02:20:09 ] Marlenus > I’m busily making stealth bomber warp points as we speak
[ 02:20:09 ] Chebri > you aren’t stealing
[ 02:20:22 ] Marlenus > I never steal, remember?
[ 02:20:26 ] Chebri > thank you for flying a tin can
[ 02:21:28 ] Marlenus > I heart my tin cans, they get the job done. Which of us was into structure tonight? Not me…
[ 02:21:49 ] Chebri > you didn’t pop me either – you ran…and I was in structure – chicken
[ 02:22:01 ] Marlenus > I prefer to call it conservative, thanks.
[ 02:22:13 ] Marlenus > Like I say, not a combat pilot. Luckily for you, or you’d be dead.
[ 02:22:21 ] Chebri > pff
[ 02:22:24 ] Chebri > you wish
[ 02:22:33 ] Marlenus > Not really, don’t much care actually.
[ 02:22:44 ] Chebri > empty threat then
[ 02:22:53 ] Marlenus > Not a threat at all
[ 02:23:02 ] Marlenus > Just a post-action analysis

Some of Chebri’s AC-ME confederates joined the conversation, which was entertaining and further instructional on the close link between this war and AC-ME’s interests, but they kept pretty close to AC-ME’s no-smack policy, which I do appreciate.

The last couple of days were mostly uneventful. Chebri and her partner in unprovoked aggression (one Gengiskahn) seem willing to travel a bit, and have displayed basic prowess with locator agents, so I amused myself by traveling to distant systems, picking up ships that needed relocating closer to the war front, waiting for Chebri to show up in system, and then going home.

They also seem willing to camp fairly patiently, so I have spent some quality time watching TV with the girlfriend, looking in from time to time to make sure that the camp was still in place. I’m always impressed by how patiently aggressive EVE players will sit outside of a station waiting for somebody who’s AFK.

Tonight Chebri and I lobbed a few missiles at each other. She was flying a speed-enhanced Blackbird EWAR cruiser, and flying it well enough to disrupt cruise missile operations somewhat. Still, despite her EWAR I got her into structure once. If I were a balls-to-the-wall combat pilot I think it should have been a kill, but my cautious reflexes had me warping as soon as she got into heavy missile range.

Once Ghengiskahn showed up, the game of dancing triangles started to get tricky, so I decided to share some quality camping time with them, and docked to write this blog post.

The other thing that has become clear is that the war is an AC-ME operation in all but name — Chebri is frequently accompanied by AC-ME members as she chases me around. The AC-ME mining vessels in my system look more and more tempting the longer I spend on a war footing. I’ve suggested to Cordus that he may want to consider getting this situation under control, but there’s been no response as yet.

In other news, a small outfit (five members) named UNDER-OATH has also declared war. Since they’ve made no demands and expressed no hostility, I can only assume they were recruited by AC-ME, or have been hired by someone else Ironfleet has offended.

…a war declaration, the bird, and a compliment.

Actually, that’s not true. Outside of EVE space, I got some very nice presents, and had an excellent dinner with family.

But when I logged in? Another story.

What to my wondering eye should appear but the following:

Equilibrium L.L.C. has declared war on Ironfleet Towing And Salvage. After 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.

I searched my conscience, and found it free of recent offenses. True, there was a guy who got huffy yesterday over 600 cubic meters of ore:

Tootenh’amon > give me my stuff back plz
Marlenus > I don’t have your stuff?
Tootenh’amon > yes, you do. you took it from my cache
Marlenus > If it was yours, it would be in your cargo hold, or in your warehouse
Tootenh’amon > or in cache in which i store it
Marlenus > You mean, the can you jettisoned it in?
Tootenh’amon > yes
Tootenh’amon > we can resolve it two ways
Marlenus > Jettison = “throw away”
Tootenh’amon > you return me the goods
Tootenh’amon > or…
Marlenus > I’m a salvager, wouldn’t be much profit in returning salvaged goods.
Tootenh’amon > well, fortunately enough, next time when you’ll see you around i’ll know to let you salvage some missiles and plutonium rounds as well.
Marlenus > Do as you see fit, but you might want to have a look at the ironfleet.com corporate blog … others who’ve felt that way have found out that shooting at Ironfleet is a losing proposition.
Tootenh’amon > just skip it, all right? You took my goods. when i shoot you it doesn’t matter if you are allah mc muhammad ali, you go down. beware of our next meeting.

But Toot didn’t really sound war-deccing mad. Better look up the corp info on Equilibrium L.L.C. Brand new corp founded three days ago, interesting. Two members? Curiouser and curiouser. CEO?

Ah. Light dawns on Marble Head (mine, that is.) The CEO is Chebri, she of the unexpected Hound. I wonder why she left AC-ME? Not just so she could come after little old me, surely?

Irrelevant aside: Chebri’s portrait is about as babealicious as EVE portraits get. Look:

Chebri

My one encounter with Chebri was professional and smack-free, so this war shouldn’t be too unpleasant. Let’s check her bio for clues to current state of mind, shall we?

Pilots that need to die:
-Ore thieves
-Salvage thieves
-Pirates
-Macro Miners
-Macro Ratters

For Shamus Horus and Marlenus

[ASCII art of somebody gesturing with middle finger]

Because they are thieves.

Ugh. Judgmental much?

Apparently the professional politeness Cordus extended me did not reflect the sentiments of the AC-ME rank and file. Sadly, it sounds like Chebri is another Eve player who is not happy unless she’s telling someone “you’re not playing the game right.” Ah, well, it takes all kinds.

So, we’ve covered the war dec and the finger. Where was the compliment?

Well, it’s subtle. But if, as seems likely, AC-ME spun Chebri off into a separate attack-dog corporation to spare themselves and their new alliance (!) the devastating consequences of Ironfleet’s awesome retributional wrath, isn’t that a compliment of sorts? As a low-player-count corp with a stated policy of avoiding the sort of open combat that makes the pew-pew crowd happy, exactly how dangerous did they think we could be?

Sounds like a compliment to me.