I hoped I would be finished with the beginning of the next story before my overenthusiastic new blog partner came up with his next post, but he beat me to it by a few hours.
For the opening of this new story arc I decided to dedicate some time to Shisei, because he is one of my least used protagonists. The quiet types who have no serious drama surrounding them are always the most difficult to write about.
One of my long-time readers once commented that he found Shisei "too scientific" or something like that (I am too lazy to search for the comment.)
In my mind he is not like that at all. While he is of course a scientist and a Caldari Achura, I always thought of him as a deeply philosophical - even spiritual - sort of character.
In this opening episode I tried to work out that aspect of the character as he is seen through the eyes of a man who thinks capsuleers are basically a bunch of spoiled children with sociopathic tendencies.
The end of the episode then ties in with the larger narrative, and I am challenging every reader who has followed the story so far to get the hints and tell me what is going on there. To me it all flows from past stories and I am wondering how obvious I am being there.
In any case, if you are not the sort of reader who enjoys character expose, I can tell you that things are going to get interesting pretty quickly now.
This is a collection of short in-character fiction pieces about Awakened Industries, a group of capsuleers and their crews living in the enigmatic and dangerous regions of Wormhole Space in EVE Online. None of the protagonists are actual characters or corporations in-game. All similarities with persons fictional or real are possibly coincidental and only sometimes intentional. - Emergent Patroller
For an introduction to this blog refer to this link. You may also want to check out the guide for new readers
Warning: The stories on this blog contain mature themes involving sexuality and violence and are not suitable for minors or sensitive people.
18 Jan 2014
17 Jan 2014
'Cloning pod 27D-E status: Activation completed.'
'Infomorph transfer complete.'
A disembodied and artificial sounding female voice announced in a soft tone.
Hatti Sugoi checked the instrument panel at his monitoring station overlooking a vast hall containing mindless bodies awaiting the death of their sponsors. One of them had just been imbued with the memory, personality, experience – the soul if one believes in such a thing – of yet another customer who had lost his life out there in the ceaseless violence committed by capsuleers against their own kind and everyone else.
Hatti filed the successful clone activation in the system and got up to step out onto the mobile catwalk. With the whine of servo motors it approached cloning pod 27D-E after Hatti entered the pod retrieval sequence into the control neocom.
Despite working in this capacity for years, the middle aged Civire cloning technician actually resented capsuleers. To him they were cheaters in the competition that was the foundation of Caldari society.
Barring actual deficiencies, every citizen should have the same chance to succeed or fail. Of course, some were born into a highly successful corporate family, but then their privilege was a result of the efforts of the previous generation. Also, their station and wealth would not be a birthright but more like an inheritance they would have to actively preserve throughout their life. If they failed to do so, others would outdo them and their fortunes would be lost.
Capsuleers, however, were simply born with a specific neural structure that was suitable for integration with a capsule control system. The Jovians - who had historically introduced this technology to the Caldari - had of course genetically modified themselves long ago to be fully compatible. The other nations of New Eden had failed, so far, to develop a similarly effective method of genetic engineering, and as long as that remained the case, being suitable was nothing but a lucky draw in a genetic lottery.
Lotteries were a very poor way of allocating wealth or station as far as Hatti was concerned. It was something the Gallente would do. Play a game of chance instead of using merit as a basis for privilege.
There is nothing that set a capsuleer apart from others in terms of skill, culture or achievement, and it showed. Throughout the years that Hatti had worked in the field, he had seen all kinds of types who would never have amounted to anything if they hadn't been granted immortality by coincidence alone: Psychopathic mass-murderers, socially inept and obsessive hoarders of meaningless wealth and incompetent megalomaniacs who lost hundreds of crewmen because they were not even able to configure and use their spaceships properly.
Members of the latter group were usually the most vocal after revival. Mostly they would put the blame for their failure on others, spout empty threats, and refuse to pay for clone upgrades on ridiculous grounds.
In the end they all paid of course. After all, a contract is a contract.
Hatti Sugoi expected the usual disrespect or any other form of unacceptable behaviour while he waited for a robotic arm to retrieve the drained cloning pod with it's newly awakened occupant. Morosely he held up a simple robe when the pod opened to release a bald Achura man bearing a Kaalakiota corporate tattoo on his temple.
'Thank you very much.' the Achura said with a respectful bow before he slipped into the offered robe. 'Your name is Hatti Sugoi, correct? You have been working here for several years if I am not mistaken?'
Hatti had not expected to be greeted by name, or acknowledged at all. Most capsuleers just slipped into the robe acting as if he wasn't there. Only a few would even bother to thank him.
At the second glance, he now remembered this man too. Shisei Kanioota, a rather uncommon specimen among capsuleers. He was always calm and professionally friendly. Sometimes he would linger for a few minutes after revival and share his thoughts with Hatti and even donate ISK to the staff retirement fund. He was still a capsuleer, though, and the very fact that he was standing here and now meant that dozens, possibly hundreds, had died today on one of his ships that he had most likely lost in a reckless action.
'That is correct Kanioota-haan.' Hatti replied slightly surprised.
'I hope your transition was not too unpleasant.' Hatti said as a concession to customer service..
Shisei Kanioota smiled thinly. 'Why do I get the feeling that you have had a few difficult customers today?'
Hatti smirked. 'It has been a long day.' he replied evasively and entered the instruction to return into the control neocom.
Kanioota swayed slightly and held on to the handrail when the catwalk started to move. The capsuleers were always a bit wobbly on their feet in the first minutes after revival. 'Was it a big loss?' Hatti asked without really caring that much for an answer.
'A loss?' Kanioota shook his head. 'A sacrifice, yes, but not a loss.'
'Tell that to the families of the crew.' Hatti muttered quietly.
'Nobody lost their lives.' The Achura man must have heard him. Hatti cursed himself inwardly for thinking out loud. If Kanioota filed a complaint about his behaviour, his job could be in danger.
'I am sorry for what I said Kanioota-haan.' Hatti said quickly, followed by a bow. 'It's not my place to question your decisions.'
Kanioota chuckled once and put a hand on Hatti's shoulder. 'Don't worry. I am not offended. In fact, I very much agree with your way of seeing things.'
Hatti turned around to face the capsuleer when they arrived back at the control station. 'You do?' he asked with open astonishment.
Kanioota nodded. 'It would be horribly inhumane to put the lives of a crew on the line when you know that the whole purpose of your mission is to get your ship destroyed.' the Achura said. 'We capsuleers are in danger to lose touch with humanity too easily as it is. We should constantly remind ourselves what it means to be human, and not walk down a path that will lead us even further away from what we naturally are.'
Hatti's eyebrows rose and his forehead wrinkled as a result of the bewildered expression. It really seemed like this capsuleer was very different from the usual customer he had to take care of here. 'Uhm. Thank you for your leniency Kanioota-haan.' was all he could think of saying in response. He hadn't anticipated some philosophical discourse on human nature.
'Oh, don't mention it.' Kantioota replied with a slight smile. 'Actually, if I may, could I ask you to stay for a bit here in your control room. I don't feel like facing the commotion of the station quite yet, and I am in no hurry either.'
For the first time on this day, Hatti Sugoi smiled. 'Oh, of course Kanioota-haan.' He opened the door to the control room and gestured at a chair. 'Would you maybe care to tell me about that sacrifice you made of your ship? … Just to pass the time.'
Shisei Kanioota dropped into the chair with a satisfied smile. 'Well, why not? You have to know, it all began with the abduction of a valued member of my corporation …'
In the far reaches of lawless space, a fleet of warships painted in red and green and market with the stylized image of an ebailla insect were busy tearing apart the wreck of a large Orca class industrial ship.
Their victim had offered little resistance, and the spoils gained from this kill were exceptional, both in value and in quantity. As they collected cargo containers that had spilled from the wreckage and distilled useful components from the remains of the ship with salvaging beams, they were oblivious to the microscopic machines that had been cunningly hidden in the molecular structure of their loot.
Without being noticed, the infinitesimal automatons spread throughout the ships they had been taken on to, and began to execute the instructions they had been programmed with.
In the last few weeks there have been a number of discussions about old and new issues that all gravitate towards the same thing in the end: The sovereignty system sucks.
Whether it's supercapital proliferation, people not undocking, drone assist, blobbing, force projection, cloaky campers, the complaints about the new deployables or reduced nullsec ratting income, no matter which discussion you follow, in the end they all come down to the underlying issues with the sovereignty mechanics. You repeatedly hear statements like "We need massive fleets (or supers) to grind structures and defend timers" or "You just need the ratting income to pay sov/rental bills." or "Without large coalitions it is just impossible to maintain enough sov." The large and small alliances who form the sovereignty blocks out in nullsec all sound like prisoners of their own success.
Just listen to the last podside podcast for an example of that discussion taking place between some nullsec guys and some wormholers with CSM Mike Azariah thrown in for some extra spice.
The wormholers and Mike have no trouble with the issues that plague the nullsec players, but the nullsec crowd sounds like they have a serious problem.
I know they do, I have been there myself.
Lucky for me, in my line of work, I actually got paid for services with ISK. Because of that, I didn't have to have three ISK grinding alts like many others. Alts which would have forced me to grind even more ISK and become even more risk averse because I have to PLEX as many of them as I can or end up spending stupid amounts of money on subscriptions. That was what I saw all around me in sov nullsec, and every time I read or hear something from nullsec players, things sound like they haven't really changed. If anything, they have become even worse.
From renters who are forced to turn into nullbears - whether they want to or not - because they can't pay their bills otherwise, to Goons who have to grind structures in bombers, nobody sounds like they are really having fun playing. At least not like I see the people in lowsec having fun, or what I hear and read from people in WH-Space. All that remains for the line grunt of the nullsec crowd is the warm and fuzzy feeling they get from being part of something big that is visible on the sov map and that gets headlines because of massive fights.
When I first got to nullsec, Dominon was still really fresh. A lot of people were happy about the change because it seemed like a welcome break from the endless POS grind that it had been before. By now, everyone feels more like having woken up with a hangover on the day after a long party. There's still a horrible grind and now the damn thing you have to grind down also costs crazy amounts of ISK while it does exactly nothing. At least a POS can be useful for stuff,. A TCU, an SBU or an IHUB are just space clutter and ISK sinks.
I think the only way out of this valley of tears (yeah there are tears, lots of them) is to throw out the sov system completely.
Faction Warfare showed me possibilities how this can work so much better. Nullsec could be even better than that (there really is no need for IHUBs at all if you ask me.) So instead of the current sovereignty system I would propose the following:
- No more TCUs SBUs and all that bullshit. If you want to get your name on a system, you need to run the plexes there and clear them. Now PVE actually means something and you make ISK while you establish your claim, rather than having to pay for it, just like you get a reward in FW for doing the same. This way nobody can just put sov structures into systems they never come back to again. Space needs to be actually lived in and used. If other people rat out your plexes, your system can turn contested, again like in FW. A mechanic like the one used for incursions could be implemented there. Maybe even with a similarly escalating difficulty (and reward) for sites. Since you would need to prevent opponents from flipping the system this way, residents would have an actual reason to undock and defend their system against ninja ratters.
- Outposts should be destructible, and if a system becomes contested anybody can build one. As long as a system is controlled by one alliance, only they can build an outpost. At the point where a system is contested, an existing outpost would be the only thing that needs to be destroyed to make sov drop. If there is no outpost, whoever clears the next plex after the system has entered contested mode gains ownership of the system after a certain grace period (maybe 24 hours?) where the system is neutral and can still be recovered.
- Current IHUB upgrades should become station upgrades and/or outpost upgrades. If a system with only NPC stations switches ownership, the upgrades become inactive but they can be taken out of the station by anyone who is still docked there. If upgrades are installed in outposts, they can also be taken out and moved of course. Upgrades can only be installed by those who hold sovereignty in a system. Upgrades would also turn inactive in neutral systems.
- Cynojammers and jumpbridges can of course only be put in place by those who hold sov. Because a system can flip more easily and without the need to grind through lots of timers, they also become more vulnerable. Force projection and jumpfreighter logistics become less of a default.
- Last but not least: Do away with CONCORD sov bills! What business does CONCORD have out there anyway? It's an agreement between the NPC Empires, not some nullsec property tax collecting agency. All the recent Rubicon lore implications actually would support such a move.
The way I see it, this would make the whole sov system much more simple and much cheaper with less unnecessary spreadsheet bureaucracy. It would reduce the need for alliances to expand their space beyond the level that they really need to cover the standard costs of playing EVE (i.e. losing ships and assets). With claimed territories becoming smaller, there would be room for more alliances out there. Coalitions can of course still be formed, but there would be more than just three of them and the diplomatic metagame will become more varied and diverse. There would also be more PVP with more varied opponents.
Taking over sov would no longer be something that can only be achieved by massive fleets or supercap blobs. Now the efforts of small groups of ninja ratters can have an effect too. Just like in WH-Space or in FW, such ratting fleets would also have to be prepared for PVP. That would be the well deserved end for the ridiculous levels of nullbearing and botting. Pure carebears can not survive in lowsec or WH-Space. They should not be able to survive in nullsec either. Because you don't need to grind ISK like crazy anymore just to pay for sov, all you earn can go directly into replacing ships and expanding your infrastructure. That also makes losing ships less of a problem, and the large alliance SRP systems would be less crucial as a means to get people to actually go out there and risk their ships.
By extension that would also solve the problem of cloaky camping. The main reason why cloaky campers are a problem is not because they can cyno in a fleet, but because their targets are not prepared for an attack. That is why - with the exception of farming corps who never make it very long - nobody in WH-Space or lowsec is really worried that much about being dropped. Sure, in WH-Space you can not drop a fleet of 500 guys with 20 capships on some ratters, but on the scale of their corps, they face a similar level of danger. In lowsec you can be dropped by fleets like that, and still nobody worries about cloaky campers. People do run sites in lowsec and WH Space, and they do mine, but they do it in an organized and well prepared way. Always ready to fight - or at least evade - intruders.
Sov warfare would become much less of a large scale mass brawl that crashes nodes. It would rather need a widespread effort by a larger number of smaller fleets to take over and then stabilize systems. Newbies can also still be meaningful in those fleets. Actually more so, because the value of smaller ships would be higher in such a system. With the exception of outposts, it would also mean the end of the stupid system of timers which delay progress and always favour one timezone over another if the warring parties do not happen to live in the same geographical region.
All of that would be a radical change, but so was Dominion. Especially, with the way how CCP are developing the meta-narrative since the Rubicon expansion, those changes would even be consistent with the backstory. Most importantly, it would reduce the amount of grind and make gameplay in nullsec more exciting and fun.
So why not do it?
A contingent of warships decorated with red-and-green patterns moved swiftly before a star spangled background dominated by a feeble red sun. In the distance, the Cloud Ring nebula spanned across the whole galactic region bearing it's name. Had an observer been present to follow the trails of ionized particles left in the wake of the small fleet, and then draw the curve of that trajectory further across the starscape, that observer would have noticed the dark, tapered disk-shape which occluded the stars many tens of kilometers further along the flightpath of the ships.
Like the fast smaller vessels, that vast object transmitted a signature which identified it as a starship. A Nyx class supercarrier in that particular case. It carried neither name nor number, just like the pod pilot who steered the Gallente-designed craft. The only identification, available by deciphering the transmitted positioning signal, was a pilot license issued to the capsuleer alliance known as The Hive. The squadron of warships which approached their mothership were as nameless as the supercarrier itself. The pod pilots at their helms - members of the same collective – carried no individual identification either. Pilots of The Hive did not have an identity, they only had their function in the fleet. Individual distinction was considered unnecessary, even undesirable, according to the philosophy of those nomadic capsuleers.
While the humans aboard the ships had been stripped of all care for individuality, the swarm of microscopic machines they carried with them unknowingly were motivated by nothing else than their quest for a single individual. After the raiding party had entered the docking bay of the nameless carrier ship, the nanomachines insinuated themselves into the molecular structure of the mothership. They began to course through the systems that guided the massive vessel, it's internal sensors and communication lines, the bulkheads and walkways and transport elevators, even the bloodstreams of the crew and the very air that they breathed.
Just like the capsuleers and crews of The Hive, this multitude of infinitesimal machines had a collective purpose. Theirs was to find one particular human, and once they found her, they would re-dedicate themselves to a new purpose according to their programming. Until then, they would proliferate and replicate themselves by using the materials available in the microcosm they inhabited. They would spread like an infection through the ships they were designed to target, and keep on doing so until they had fulfilled the mission they were meant for.
'Shadow Leader, this is Shadow Scout.' Cedrien received a fluid-router communication from Alira. 'I have a positive. Yrton Constellation. System designation QXW-PV. According to the starmap that's 7.34 lightyears from target.'
Cedrien smiled inwardly but his face remained impassive inside the capsule his body floated in. Only when he willed the immense bulk of the Thanatos-class carrier to turn in space and align itself to the outgoing wormhole, his arms rose slightly and he twisted subtly at the waist due to residual impulses traveling through his nervous system.
'Will the wormholes on the way to your location take the mass of our fleet?' The Gallente commander asked.
'Easily.' Alira replied. 'Also, my recon squad confirms that there is no activity in any of the three systems in the chain.'
'Copy.' Cedrien confirmed. 'Alira, move to the target system and report any potential hostiles you see on the way. I need you to get into range with the ship we are tracking. Move as fast as you can.' he ordered and then switched to fleet broadband. 'Shadow Sword, Shadow Pivot, lock on to my signature and follow me in warp. We have a clear path and a positive on destination. The faster we go, the higher the chance that nobody will catch on to us.'
'Finally.' a voice with a distinctive Intaki accent replied. 'This place makes me nervous, having no local signature transmission coverage and all.'
'Sword Leader.' Cedrien addressed the Intaki wing commander. 'I am transmitting navigational data from my scout to you. Can you give me an ETR for Mace fleet.'
'Stand by.' Tenshin Noy answered while Cedrien sent the mental command to his ship to spin up the warp drive.
'They say they will have to activate a number of dormant assets in a few points along the jump route but expect to be ready for deployment in T minus 8 minutes. Full jump sequence to target destination will take 40 seconds from initiation.'
'Copy.' Cedrien replied. 'I am entering warp, follow me to the transmitted coordinates.' he added as his carrier was enveloped by it's subspace warp-bubble and carried away by imaginary-mass quantum streams at supra-light speed.
'Who are you?'
'My name is Agenine Favrausse.'
Of course that was not what they wanted to hear. So she was rewarded with a new wave of unspeakable pain as the drilling implement she was impaled upon twisted and tore the flesh of her insides.
A deeply sequestered part of herself marveled at the amount of damage a body could sustain without dying. Of course, she would be dead already if they wouldn't keep her inside this capsule and have the nourishing fluid replace her lost blood. She wondered whether anyone on the outside would even be able to see her inside the pod which she imagined to be opaque crimson by now. She didn't know for sure, though, because they had taken her eyes rather early during this whole ordeal.
How long had this been going on? She didn't have the slightest idea.
Obviously she wouldn't need her eyes to be suitable as a pilot, so they had just become a source of agony and anguish. She wouldn't need her arms or her legs or her breasts or her lips or her teeth either to fly a ship. So they had taken those too. Not right away and not all at once, of course. They wouldn't waste any possibility to inflict pain. If she would still have a face to smirk with, she would have done so as she cynically wondered how much of her body they could destroy and still keep enough of her intact to become what they wanted her to be again: One of them, a capsuleer flying ships for The Hive. A non-entity with only the desire to serve the collective.
She was determined to endure much longer than that. As long as it took for them to concede defeat and finally kill her.
'Who are you?'
'My name is Keitu.'
The result of the answer was the expected one. Even with the pain amplification turning everything into an overbearing surge of torment, she imagined that she could feel how something major ruptured inside of her and spilled out most of the contents of her pelvic cavity.
She reckoned that the instrument which ravaged her would start to wrap the small intestine around itself next. That part inside of her which had become strangely detached from the whole experience, the part which had become a tempered hidden core so long ago on a grimy bunk aboard a Hive ship like this one, morbidly entertained the notion that her intestine would jam that bladed drill and overload the servo motors until they burned out.
'Who are you?'
'My name is Sandrielle Jaunes.'
The thought had been fun while it lasted. She had to let go of it it in the face of the next wave of tortuous pain, though.
16 Jan 2014
Cradled in her pod and in tune with the Sei'r, Alira mentally prepared herself for the battle to come.
'Find your center and your senses will expand freely into space.' That was something she once heard from Shisei, but the Caldari scientist could not be with them now to provide any such wisdom. They had to move swiftly from staging areas hidden in the remotest regions of space when they received the news that Sandrielle's biological signature had been detected. There had been no time for Shisei to join up with them.
In preparation, the Rasenzoku had called upon capsuleers who had long sworn off active duty, to come out of their self-imposed isolation and commit their immense Titan ships once more. It is said that a Titan is the last ship that a capsuleer will ever plug in to. Often it turned out to be true. Many of those who have become one with those gigantic craft ended up changed. The existence as a mere human, or even as capsuleer steering a battleship, paled in comparison with merging one's consciousness with a machine that houses thousands of people and wields the power to scorch a planet. Often such capsuleers would become so detached by the experience that they withdrew from the active ranks and chose solitary existence in the vast emptiness of the galactic fringe. Only the most massive confrontations would bring those hermits back from their reclusion, or the short commitment for the eventual operation which needs a Titan's ability to send whole fleets through spacetime on artificial warp bridges.
Alira was not the type for large battles. Stalking and hunting like the cunning Slarde which prowl through the high grass of the plains on her homeworld, that was more her style. She thought of the last major battle that Awakened Industries had fought against the Yanissary Order. While they had held the field, they had effectively lost. Despite the Sleeper Drones and the support of Arclight alliance. The confrontation left their home in wormhole space devastated and their fleet scattered.
What they had faced then was less than half the size of the force which escorted the Nyx class supercarrier Alira now observed from her cloaked position. The design of the massive red-and-green painted ship morbidly reminded her of the sigil on a funeral plaque. She dispelled that thought as quickly as she could.
'Shadow scout, report.' Cedrien sounded collected and calm as always.
His voice reassured Alira and her focus returned. 'They are right below me at designated range. I'm in position.' she replied with her thoughts being synthesized into voice for the recipients.
'Good. Shadow Pivot. Are you ready to engage?'
'On your mark.' the Intaki accented voice of commander Tenshin Noy replied.
'We have the capsuleers of Rasenzoku on our side. Their experience fighting against The Hive must be good for something'. Alira thought in an effort to get her hopes up.
'Copy. You take over until Mace arrives. Pivot is yours. Alira light her up!' Cedrien commanded across the vast distances bridged by the fluid-router link. His contingent would arrive at a later stage of the confrontation. Provided, of course, their plan worked at all.
'Copy.' Alira replied tersely and willed her ship to shed it's cloaking field. Less than a second later her next neural impulse activated the cynosural field generator which twisted and spun the fabric of space until the forces it applied squeezed light in angry colours from the subatomic particles of the cosmic tapestry.
The part of Alira's awareness which was focused on her ship's sensors registered the immediate reaction of the Hive fleet. Smaller ships began to accelerate towards her position while the heavier battleships turned around slowly for their own approach. The Nyx supercarrier itself spewed forth a swarm of fighter craft that joined the race of the assault wing toward Alira's lonely Minmatar ship.
At this point, she was still well out of range, even for the battleships, but not for long. The energy requirements of the cynosural field disabled her engines and made her a stationary target. The faster attack ships would be close enough to engage her soon. It appeared that the Rasenzoku tactical experts had been correct. The Hive pilots showed little consideration and immediately rushed her. She just hope that the rest of the plan would work out just as well.
'The vanguard of assault frigates and interceptors is closing fast, only forty clicks left.' Alira reported. She brought her artillery guns to bear on one particularly fast approaching ship. 'Cruisers now at fifty.'
'Pivot fleet. Stand by for bridge. Alira, report when the cruisers hit forty distance.' came the order from wing commander Noy.
Alira fired her artillery cannons at a Stiletto class interceptor which lead the pack that charged at her. The Hive ship sent disrupting signals which affected her tracking systems, but it was still flying straight for her, making no attempt at evasion. Alira's high-powered shells tore the frail interceptor to pieces with only two volleys. Quickly she focused her targeting system on the next closest opponent. She would not have much time left before those fast ships could swing into an orbit around her and become untrackable for her artillery turrets.
'Cruiser wing now at fortyfive … three … one!' Alira transmitted
'Bridge up! Pivot Fleet jump!' The order from Tenshin Noy resulted in a firework of particle shockwaves all around Alira's position. When the energy flare died down, it revealed squadrons of Rasenzoku ships which had materialized seemingly from nowhere.
'Bombs away!' Keram's voice sounded over the communications channel enthusiastically. The squadron of stealth bomber craft which had bridged onto the battlefield sent their payload hurtling through space at the approaching cruisers. Mere moments later, a second sun cast it's harsh light on the fighting capsuleer forces. Only wreckage and four badly damaged cruisers of Amarrian design emerged from that conflagration caused by the thermal explosive charges. The cruiser wing had been destroyed almost utterly by the rain of bombs.
At the same time the frigates and fighters were entering engagement range. Already the first began to open fire at the Rasenzoku forces. The wing of wedge-tailed Pilgrim class recon ships, which formed the main part of Pivot Fleet, opened their dronebays and sent a cloud of automated fighting machines against the Hive attack craft.
Alira's multitasking brain raced to process the streams of information coming from her ship and the immediate surroundings. Space around her had turned into a storm of energy discharges, electronic warfare signals, weapons fire, quickly maneuvering ships and swarming drones. The enemy frigates and fighters had originally homed in on one ship, hers, now they found themselves among a group of more than twenty stealthbombers and recon cruisers. The Hive outnumbered them, but the smaller ships had been counting on cruiser support, and that wont be coming anymore. Even now Alira was sending barrage after barrage into the hull of the slowly approaching and heavily armoured Amarr ships that had survived the bomb blast. She had downed one already, and the next one had already lost more than half of it's plating.
'Stealth bomber squadron, pull range and see whether you can peel off any of those small ships.' Keram commanded and steered his ship away from the dogfight at full speed.
'I got three fighters on my tail … need fire support.' came the desperate answer of a Rasenzoku bomber pilot. Drones managed to track and kill one of the three pursuing craft, but the other two managed to destroy the lightly built stealthbomber before they were themselves taken by the drones.
'Pivot main. Jump!' Tenshin Noy called out, and with another discharge of lightning and glowing energy shockwaves, four battleships, vaguely shaped like tailed arthropods poised for the kill, appeared on the scene. While their drones joined the hunt for the smaller craft, they opened their cruise missile launcher bays. 'Widow pilots, sort targets by range. Target the closest enemy battleships that are approaching and launch. All stealthbombers warp to the closest planet and align back to this position. Stand by for warp-in. Pilgrims, I want energy neutralizers and tracking disruption on all close range ships, send light drones against distant targets, heavy stuff against close range after you drained their propulsion systems.' The Intaki commander quickly issued his stream of commands.
'Copy. Bombers get out of here!' Keram responded and one by one the small ships sped away into the direction of the nearby gas giant.
One more was caught by an enemy interceptor and went down under concentrated weapon's fire, but the small fleet of Hive fast attackers was getting decimated Drained of energy and with the tracking systems of their guns rendered useless by the Pilgrims, they were quickly picked off by drones.
Alira felt the tension release itself from her body when the cynosural field generator had finally completed it's cycle. Another attacking Maller class attack cruiser came apart with the last of her salvos, but she also increasingly took fire. Relieved, she willed her ship into motion kept firing on the last enemy cruiser that began to chase her. Her shields were down, and her armor was being depleted by pulse-laser beams, but her mind had entered a state of heightened lucidity under the pressure of the fight. Her ship had become more than just an extension of herself, she had become the ship, just like she had experienced in the glimpses she got of the Sleeper mind.
Quickly the battle against the smaller craft was won, but they were still facing a large force of enemy battleships and of course a supercarrier which, even now, undocked more Hive attack craft.
'Pivot main, deploy jump modules and then jump to the target under your own power.' Tenshin Noy ordered.
'Everyone else, pull drones, get in range, and follow as soon as the micro jump units are active.'
In response, each of the Widow class battleships dropped a contraption from it's cargo hold which unfolded itself into a circular field generator. At the same time, graviton emissions distorted the light around the four large vessels and finally catapulted them a full hundred kilometers closer to the enemy supercarrier. Seconds after the deployed micro jump units signaled readiness, Alira and the squadron of Pilgrim recon cruisers were cast across space by similar forces.
The wrecks of the Hive attack wing and the spent jump units were the only thing that remained at their initial position. The enemy battleships which had previously been close to engagement range had to turn around cumbersomely to close the distance yet again.
'Pivot main. I want full cruise missile fire on that Nyx. All ECM on the battleships. All drones against the close range attack ships they are undocking. Pilgrims, all tracking disruption against the battleships. Targets will be broadcast. Alira, you go for your primary objective.' Tenshin Noy issued his instructions before his Widow battleship activated a cynosural field of it's own. A mere twenty kilometers above the massive shape of the Hive supercarrier.
'Bomber squad, warp to my position at ten and open up with torpedoes on the Nyx. Launch void bombs at the thing. Everyone stay out of explosion radius. Pilgrims close in and engage neutralizers once the bombs went off. Alira you will have to coast through than one!' The Intaki commander's voice provided the lyrics for the symphony of destruction that played out around the Hive mothership now that new cruisers and frigates had issued forth from the carrier's hangars to engage the Rasenzoku fleet.
Alira directed all power to the propulsion of her ship and closed in on the supercarrier, scanning it's vast hull for emergency airlocks. Yet another sequence of energy shockwaves announced the arrival of more friendly ships that had come to the cynosural beacon which Tenshin Noy had activated.
The stealthbombers under Keram's command warped in from the nearby planet and engaged, Alira weaved through the first torpedo explosions that tore through the carrier's shields while speeding along the top surface of the enemy ship. She was taking fire from several Hive ships, but she had found her target. Her ship rocked from impacts of energy beams, artillery fire and hybrid weapon charges. Alira steered her ship confidently through it all. Like the Sleepers she swam through space
Now she registered the soothing sensation of projected armour repair nanites. On her sensors she saw Cedrien's Thanatos carrier and two Rasenzoku Archon class carriers which had jumped to Tenshin Noy's beacon.
The battle reached new levels of intensity around her. An interdiction field formed. It must be one of their own. Indeed, Alira saw that they had brought heavy interdictors with them along with the carriers, and a squadron of battleships too. She registered it all, but she had her own objective. Alira calculated a speed and course that would bring her ship right on top of that airlock she had spotted. She needed to get there, nothing else mattered right now.
Then all active systems on her ship shut down as the Void bombs spread their destructive electromagnetic detonation pulses.
15 Jan 2014
Fitfully progressing through a series of flickers, the lighting in the sally room off the airlock turned back on even as the ship was being rocked by a series of heavy impacts. Kassina Vikkonen grimaced momentarily and then quickly reassured herself that all her men were unharmed. Muttering curses in Caldari battle slang here and there, all of them signalled readiness and quickly resumed their equipment check.
'Are you still sure you want to do this girl?' the tall Caldari bounty hunter asked the young Amarrian who seemed unaccustomed to the combat suit she was wearing. 'Now's the last chance to opt out.' Kassina grabbed hold of the bulkhead when another salvo hit the ship. 'If we don't get shot to pieces before we even arrive.' she added grimly.
Seated on a folding bench, Sylera continued the diagnostic check of her combat suit. Without looking up she replied. 'I am the most qualified in the sort of infomorph transfer we need to undertake.'
'We have a medic.' Kassina Vikkonen said and gestured to encompass her team of battle-hardened troopers.
Sylera finished the diagnostics and set the systems of her enhanced armour into their active state. Micromotors whined as she rose and finally looked up at the other woman. Kassina still stood head and shoulders taller than the lightly built Amarrian.
'Sandrielle is my teacher, my sister and my friend.' Sylera said. 'I have been in the hands of the enemy myself once. I will not let her endure this and do nothing. If she is still alive, I want to be there.'
Kassina pressed her thin lips together. 'You are a capsuleer, you should be out there, in a ship, fighting.'
'So are you.' Sylera replied and extended her hand to receive the weapon Kassina had been holding for her. 'So what are you doing here?'
'I wouldn't want to let my men go into battle without me.' Kassina nodded in understanding, but her expression remained full of doubt.
The Caldari could only respect the bond those wormhole capsuleers shared with each other, but she did not trust in the combat effectiveness of this fine-featured and frail-looking Amarrian. Her men, and herself, have all come through the intense training of the harshest Civire battle schools. Every single one of them had years of combat experience. They were her hand-picked best. The girl had a point though. If they reached their objective, they would have to extract the infomorph of Sandrielle Jaunes into a remote clone and override whatever systems The Hive could have linked her to. Finally Kassina shrugged and handed Sylera the electromagnetic rail-assault gun.
'Everyone should be free to choose the way how they die and what they die for.' Kassina smiled thinly. 'Just try not to get in the way too much.' she added more seriously.
'Attack squad. Prepare for boarding, we will dock with the enemy ship in ten.' a crewman's voice informed them via the intercom. Moments later the deck shuddered as the airlock connected with the Hive supercarrier. Kassina's men readied their weapons while the lock pressurized and slowly slid open.
Sylera put on her helmet and took her position at the rear, and then the outside portal of the airlock opened the way into the Hive vessel.
Fighter craft and drones swarmed around the enemy battleships which were persistently closing range. The amount of tracking disruption they faced from Rasenzoku recon ships forced them to concentrate their fire on the three carriers. Everything else was just moving too fast. In the meantime a squadron of Rasenzoku battleships and battlecruisers did what they could to decimate the heavy assault ships which The Hive had launched from the vast hangars of the supercarrier.
In the middle of that maelstrom of destruction, massive utility portals opened on the underside of the Oni, proud member of the Rasenzoku carrier wing. Powerful tractor fields activated and carried modular elements the size of small buildings from the Oni to it's sister ship the Stormguard. Likewise, elements of the other Archon carrier decoupled themselves from the ship's superstructure and floated toward the Oni. In an effort to maximize their effectiveness, the two capital ships switched roles in the middle of the battle. While one of them would focus fully on providing capacitor and repair to friendly ships, the other other would improve it's defences to full potential.
Cedrien observed the daring manoeuvre with surprised interest. It had never occurred to him to use a carrier's maintenance bay facilities to exchange modular elements between two such ships. Under the heavy fire they were facing, it was an innovative tactic to keep either ship in the battle while the enemy might think they have already broken it's defences.
Cedrien himself concentrated on directing his fighter wing and sentry drones to full potential. At this point they were committed to the fight. With heavy interdictors on the field, the Hive Nyx was prevented from escaping, but so were they. Cedrien's sensors registered Alira's Loki releasing itself from a ventral airlock on the enemy mothership.
'Commando team deployed!' the Matari capsuleer reported as she engaged her propulsion module and went into overdrive to escape the trio of Hive Zealot assault cruisers which were homing in on her. Her defences were in a precarious state, but she was kept on the verge of destruction by the streams of dedicated repair nanites issued by Cedrien's carrier.
Now it would be a race for time. They did not need to necessarily win that fight, they just had to hold out long enough for the commandos under Kassina Vikkonen to rescue Sandrielle. So far, they were doing well. Their earlier manoeuvre had resulted in a major loss of support and assault ships for The Hive. Now only the heavier ships and a few scrambled cruisers were available to them, and the Rasenzoku recon wing did it's best to keep the effectiveness of both low through the use of energy neutralizers and tracking disruptors.
They had endured some minor losses, but the balance of forces clearly favoured Rasenzoku.
Then an energy flare appeared off the split bow of the Hive Nyx.
'Enemy cyno active!' was immediately reported by a number of Rasenzoku pilots.
Now there was no telling what The Hive might bring into the fight.
Slylera twisted right and smashed the stock of her assault gun into the faceplate of the Hive trooper who had tried to ambush her from behind. Like an unwinding spring coil she twisted the other way, pushing with the left palm and sweeping her left leg across the floor at the same time. The smash, push and sweep – executed in such quick fashion and augmented by the suit's systems – floored the armoured enemy. Quickly Sylera took hold of her weapon with both hands again and sent a salvo of energized projectiles directly into the neck-seam of the Hive soldier's armour. The impact ripped his head clean off his body and shattered the helmet. It's parts slithered across the floor like a gory, broken eggshell.
'They are coming up behind us.' Sylera shouted over the combat link as she went back into cover behind the corner from which she had sprung, barely avoiding incoming fire.
'Tessin, Konai. Cover the rear!' Kassina ordered over the racket of gunfire and the low, pulsing hiss of the Hive lasers.
The two mercenaries quickly scrambled over to assist Sylera. One of them deftly rolled across the opening of the corridor from which more enemies were approaching. A white beam painted him and the shield of his suit flared under the strain. He was thrown into cover rather than moving under his own power. He signaled OK to his squad-mate before taking position and firing.
They were pinned down now between a heavy blast door, more Hive troopers coming from the rear and the contingent which guarded the cellblock that was their objective. The segmented bulkheads offered some cover, but under continuous fire the heavy beams and spars had become whittled down. Before long there would be nothing left to duck behind. More Hive reinforcements positioned themselves in the corridor behind them. Sylera and the two mercenaries did their best to hold them off with staggered, controlled bursts of hybrid charges.
'Wouldn't it be great if we'd brought something more heavy.' one of Kassina's men quipped after he dove away when a bulkhead segment exploded into white-glowing fragments under continuous laser fire.
'Can do.' Kassina growled back. Dropping behind cover she tapped a switch opening the utility panel of her gun and blocked the receiver assembly. She set the weapon on continuous autofire and pulled the trigger until the oversaturation gauge flashed with an angry red. Then she threw the weapon at the enemies crouched down around the cellblock entrance. When the electromagnetic charge proved too much for the weapon's structural integrity a second later, it exploded into a burst of supercharged shrapnel that tore through the Hive troopers behind their cover. Finally they could advance.
'Laaku. Get to work on that door override. Everyone else fall back to the cellblock entrance now!' Kassina ordered and sprinted to the defensive position only recently occupied by the Hive troopers.
Sylera followed and only heard the strangled scream as the man called Tessin tried to get across the mouth of the corridor again. This time the laserbeams of the Hive soldiers penetrated his shields. On her tactical HUD she saw his signal flash and vanish. 'Tessin's down!' She reported as she slid into cover and opened fire at the enemies now advancing behind them.
'Here. Hive laser weapon ma'm.' One of Kassina's mercenaries handed a weapon to his commander, then they all began to lay down suppressing fire as best as they could.
Ammunition began to run low for most of them and it would only be a question of time until the Hive brought in heavy weapons, and now they were with their backs against the cellblock door.
'Make it fast Laaku!' Kassina urged her field technician.
'Working as fast as I can ma'm!' Laaku replied from his position at an opened micro-optronics switchboard as he connected his codebreaker to the utility port.
Directly opposite from them, the heavy blast-door which had blocked that route slid open with the whine of powerful servo motors. An assault squad of more Hive troopers stormed in recklessly. Two went down under the concentrated fire of Kassina's unit but the powerful shields of the heavy combat suit that brought up the rear held.
'Laaku?!' Kassina shouted urgently and fired her scrambler rifle at the enemy who brought his large plasma cannon to bear.
'Almost there, almost there!' the tech-trooper responded just a moment before a plasma discharge obliterated part of the bulkhead behind him and Konai with it. A smouldering wound in the ship's interiour structure was all that remained, bleeding molten metal and compound materials.
14 Jan 2014
'I have an override!' Laaku shouted over the tactical link. He managed to dodge the plasma bolt from the heavy Hive trooper just in time as the reinforced security gate of the cellblock slid apart.
'Concentrate fire on the heavy trooper and get in there.' Kassina Vikkonen commanded her squad and dodged sideways from cover while discharging her energy weapon into the powerfully armoured opponent. Her gun overloaded the Hive soldier's shields quickly and the hybrid slugs of the remaining mercenaries tore through the suit's armour, finally bringing the man down.
Sylera only noticed a lighter armed Hive trooper storming at her when that opponent raised his rifle to aim at her. Reflexively she turned to direct fire at him, but most of her shots went wide. Yet, one lucky shot hit the enemy's weapon, knocking it out of his hands.
Not missing a beat, the Hive soldier kept running at Sylera and drew a long knife with an energized blade.
His attack was fast and vicious, but by no means refined. Sylera let go of her weapon, stepped sideways and grabbed the attacker's arm while she dropped low. She slid below the attacker until her shoulder connected with the man's hip. The momentum of the Hive soldier's assault made the throw an easy feat despite his weight. The wheeling movements of her arms – one pulling, one pushing – helped catapult the man along his path as Sylera rose. Quickly she dove behind him into the main corridor of the detainment facility.
Kassina's men retreated past the same threshold while pinning down enemies with full-automatic fire. The tall Caldari woman hit the emergency lockdown next to the gate as soon as the last one crossed.
'Tell me you have disabled the access panel on the other side?' Kassina asked Laaku.
'Negative.' The helmet hid Laaku's features but his voice on the tactical channel betrayed the smug grin on his face. 'Turns out that heavy trooper took care of that for us. There wont be much left of anything after his plasma cannon hit the console.'
'Done deal then.' Kassina nodded briskly. Next to her the Hive trooper in a light suit, who had involuntarily joined them behind the heavy security door, struggled to his feet. Kassina unceremoniously drilled a cauterized hole through his helmet with a fully charged shot of her scrambler gun.
'Where's our objective?' She turned to ask Sylera.
The Amarrian read tactical information off a holographic display hovering around her forearm. 'Two cells down, left.' she reported.
Kassina signaled two of her troopers to take position there. 'Laaku, how long will that door hold?'
The Caldari tech-trooper shrugged. 'It's made to withstand infantry weapon fire, but if they bring anything heavier they'd be through it in less than two cycles.'
'Patch into the control system. I want this detention module to be ready for jettison. Monitor the outside. If they deploy heavy materiel, kick us out of here.' Kassina commanded.
Matis, you stay in contact with the fleet and tell them to have our pickup stand by.' she ordered another of her men. 'You ...' she pointed at Sylera. 'Get your kit ready, move over to that cell and plug yourself into their infomorph storage.' Kassina Vikkonen dropped her drained weapon and headed to the cell herself.
The whispering voices which had kept gnawing at her mind with teeth made of amplified pain suddenly stopped. Behind her mental wall built of both iron discipline and pent-up rage Sandrielle noticed the silence immediately. Did they finally give up? Would they kill her now and end this suffering? She cautiously allowed the feeling of relief that welled up inside her to become more manifest. Had she won out?
She knew that voice. She had heard it quote Amarr scripture haughtily. She remembered when it sounded displeased at yet another harsh lesson taught on the practice floor. She could recall that voice carrying so much pain too. Was that a new trick? What was their game now?
'Go away.' Sandrielle decided it must be a deception. After all, they had not managed to break her by force. It made sense that they would try with more subtle means. How did they manage to imitate the voice so perfectly?
'Sandrielle! You are still there!' The voice with it's Amarrian accent said. 'Your lifesigns were so weak that I was worried we were too late. All those horrible things they did to you.'
'Spare me. Not even Cedrien would be foolishly heroic enough to go looking for me. How would they even find me? Stop this already.' Sandrielle expressed her thoughts through the interlink with the limited capsule control system they still had her connected to. In its current setting the only purpose of that system was to torture her mind just as they had mutilated her body.
'But we did Sandrielle.' The voice insisted. 'Shisei and Alira reprogrammed the nanites. You remember, the ones we recovered from the Scion ships? Shisei infected some Hive ships with them and they led us to you. Even now they are right here and active. They allowed me to link up to your signal. And we are not alone. A whole fleet of Rasenzoku ships came with us.'
Sandrielle's mind momentarily forgot the pain that wracked what remained of her physical nervous system. Something else had just taken over. Something almost like hope. 'If that is the truth then you can give me control of the nanites. I know how they work.'
'Of course. Do you want that Sandrielle? You can use that control to encode your retrieval sequence into the transmit buffer of this system. We have a clone ready in Keram's hidden ship. All you need to do is to take control and encode that sequence.' The voice which sounded like Sylera said.
Sandrielle understood the game now. Not very subtle or resourceful. 'You say those nanites are all over this ship here?' She asked back.
'Yes. They have replicated through all the systems, and even the people on board to find your biometric signature.' the Sylera voice replied.
That would of course have to be a lie Sandrielle decided. If it was, then the Hive knew way too much about Awakened Industries. That thought worried her. There would be one way to find out of course. Sandrielle decided to counter a crude attempt at manipulation with an equally crude bluff. It was all a stupid game anyway. 'Of course. I understand. Give me control over the nanites and I'll do it. Just get me out of here.'
The signal-feed of a purpose-driven multitude assaulted her brain with a flood of impulses that was even more overwhelming than the pain she had endured. A part of her mind that remained barely aware under the barrage of information decided that this was indeed a very intricate simulation. Just to indulge it she struggled to filter, compartmentalize and attune as fast as her neural implants and mental capacity allowed her to.
When she had the overview she desired, she began to search the main infomorph buffer to look for traces left by the encoded minds of other capsuleers. Sylera seemed real enough when she located that one. Sandrielle wondered how far they could take this simulation. They would not get her retrieval sequence, she was determined to keep that to herself, but if they wanted to have her play mind games, she would play along, the Gallente capsuleer decided grimly.
Sandrielle found the imprint of the capsuleer at the helm of this ship, and to her surprise she could track down it's pattern through the infestation that afflicted the systems of the supercarrier. She gave up the part of her mental wall that was built of rage. She would need that for her next move.
The cynosural field off the enemy ship's bow flickered, expanded and threw energy flares into space. In the afterglow, the heavy-set shapes of dreadnoughts materialized above the embattled Hive Nyx. A carrier squadron followed with the next flare. A swarm of fightercraft immediately sallied forth from those Hive carriers, and the immense turrets of the dreadnoughts laboriously turned to align with their intended targets.
The Rasenzoku attackers had become hopelessly outgunned and outnumbered within mere moments.
'That's a full enemy capital fleet. We must disengage before they jump through even more!' Cedrien urged across the command channel. 'We must activate the return beacons as long as we are not pinned down.'
'And leave the subcapital ships to die? No, we are committed.' The Intaki commander's tone allowed no contradiction. 'Captain Roucellis, you lead us here and we supported your move, but now this is a fleet of the Rasen Zoku dedicated to destroy the enemy.' Tenshin Noy said with grim resolve.
Strike fleet command, what is your status?' he inquired across command broadcast.
'We are standing by for escalation.' a previously silent Rasenzoku commander reported in.
'Light them up.' Tenshin Noy ordered. The two Rasenzoku Archon carriers redirected full capacity to their repair systems and each activated a cynosural field generator to provide jump beacons for their own reinforcements.
'Cedrien, what the fuck are they doing?!' Keram transmitted on their private channel.
'The fleet commander just ordered more capitals to jump in.' Cedrien replied stoically 'He's made it pretty clear that this is their fleet now.'
'Well, screw that! He gave me command of this bomber wing and I'm gonna bail. We wont last long in this.' the Amarrian said and broadcast the appropriate orders to the stealth bomber squadrons which had become severely decimated already.
'Affirmative.' Cedrien agreed. 'Set up for a bombing run. We should at least get their support off the field if we want any chance at all of surviving this.' On his tactical sensors he registered the remainder of Keram's force warping off. Cedrien tuned out the angry questions of Rasenzoku subcommanders about the actions of the bomber wing. He had more pressing problems now that eight enemy dreadnoughts had locked their blaster batteries on to him and prepared to fire.
His next mental command for the carrier's defense systems was lost in a sudden jumble of impulses and warped mental projections when an electromagnetic surge washed over his ship and all the others engaged in this embittered confrontation.
Cedrien tried to come to his senses and regain control of the ship as quickly as he could. His mind reeled with the aftereffect of what must have been an ECM burst from the supercarrier. Through the haze of disorientation he noticed a new friendly ship on his targeting overview. Strangely enough it occupied the exact position of the enemy Nyx. Cedrien felt relieved when he recognized the commanding capsuleer's transmission code. What a good thing that Sandrielle flew that Nyx.
The impossibility of that sensor reading struck him just as the Rasenzoku capital ships appeared all around him in a blaze of cynosural flares.
Inexplicably deprived of their own jump beacon, now the Hive fleet was the outnumbered force.
The battle was rejoined with new ferocity as the dreadnoughts of both sides unleashed a storm of destruction that swallowed the light of the distant sun with it's blaze.
10 Jan 2014
Like I said, I am currently engaged in Faction Warfare, and because of the relatively easy access to that playstyle really new pilots are regularly coming in. For them and newbies everywhere else I decided to write this short guide, so you don't have to ask embarrassing questions in the middle of a fleet op, or - even worse - get yourself killed or screw up a fleet operation because you did the wrong thing. In here, you'll find commonly used commands that are pretty universal all over the game. I will also explain for each command on how you properly follow it and which keyboard shortcuts you can use.
You can also use this as an aspiring fleet commander to know how to issue commands to people in a way that is generally understood in EVE.
EVE Uni also have a nice guide on the subject but it is in many ways rather specific to their way of doing things. I would still recommend reading it.
A few things in general:
Once you are on fleet coms during forming up the fleet, be sure to identify the voice of the FC. If you are not sure who it is, then ask. That is the person you keep listening to for instructions, and nobody else. Always pay attention to every word the FC says.
If the FC issues an order and you didn't understand it, ask the FC to repeat it, but don't start a long explanation like "Sorry, I'm new here so I didn't quite get that last thing you said. Could you be so kind to tell me again what I am supposed to do." just keep it short and clear like "FC repeat last order." or "FC repeat destination."
If you are just a normal fleet member with no special role, then you wont have to say much yourself during an operation, so don't. Often enough you will end up in fleets where lots of people seem to talk about random stuff. Don't let yourself get dragged into this. Those people are either experienced enough to judge the situation and know when it's OK to relax, or they are just idiots who mess up coms. If you belong to the intended audience for this post, then you are most likely not experienced enough yet, and you certainly don't want to be one of the idiots either.
Ok, with that out of the way let's get to the things you will hear the FC say and what they mean:
- Warp (to) ... This command is followed by a destination. That can be a gate, a station, a planet or anything else in system. It means that you warp to zero distance. Click on the destination on your overview (BTW most of the actions that follow here require you to click on your destination on the overview, so I wont repeat that for each command) Now hit the "Warp to" button on your selected object panel (or S on your keyboard). Most importnatly, if your destination is a gate do not jump through.
- Jump on contact This is the exception to the last sentence above. If you hear an FC say that after issuing a warp to gate order, you are supposed to jump. You can warp and jump on contact by hitting the D button on your keyboard after you selected a gate.
- Jump You will hear this order if you have been sitting at a gate and are now supposed to jump through. Do it immediately. Again, you can hit D for that. Just make sure you have the gate selected if you do.
- Hold/Gate is Red This command is usually issued after you have already been ordered to jump but things have changed due to new information. So you do not jump through the next gate. If you are already in warp, you hit Ctrl+Space to cancel the jump command that would follow your warp. Also FCs often use this command to emphasize that people should not jump, even if they were not ordered to and should actually stop at the gate anyway. Once you are free to jump the FC will declare the gate Green.
- Warp at range/Warp to optimal Here the FC will give you a destination and either tell you to which range you should warp, or assume that you just warp to the range that is best for you. If you are in a frigate with guns that can fire up to 5km optimal range, then you warp to 5km. If you are in an electronic attack frigate like a Griffin that jams targets from 30km optimal, then use that range as your reference point.You do that by right clicking on the destination and selecting the proper distance to warp to.
- Align ... This will also be followed by a destination. Your selected object panel has a button for that too, and hitting A is the keyboard shortcut for it. Some FCs will use the term Soft Align. That means you align, and once your ship has turned into that direction, you stop it's engines to hold position.
- Set Destination This command will be accompanied by a link in fleet chat. If it is not, request it. You can click on that link and set destination. It is important that you use the same autopilot settings as everyone else. If in doubt, ask. "Prefer Shorter" is usually the default. The autopilot settings can be found by clicking on the A next to the route that usually appears at the left top of your screen as a series of blocks.
- Best Speed/Free Burn ... Again, this command will be followed by a solar system destination. Like above, someone will link that system in fleet chat so you can click on it and set the destination. You are then supposed to just warp to and jump through all the stargates on the way there without detours or delays.
- Anchor on ... This command will be followed by the name of a fleet member. You can either orbit that fleet member at reasonably close range, or use the "Keep at range" function. Don't get so close that you can bump off eachother. Something like 5-10km is usually fine.
- Tac/Ping on ... This is the FC asking for someone to either warp to a previously existing tactical bookmark or otherwise create one at a destination gate or station. A tactical bookmark is one that is far enough from a gate or a station to be at minimum warp distance (+150km). If you have such a bookmark or want to create one (best done in a fast ship) then you can respond by announcing that.
- Go plus one This one will come with a qualifier that tells you whether the command is meant for you or not. Something like "Scout go plus one" or "Fast Tackle go plus one" If the role description fits your ship and role, you jump through the next gate on the way to the destination solar system. When everyone else is ordered to just warp to a gate, it means you jump through it. If everyone is jumping through, it means you go to the next system on the path to the destination.
- Hold Cloak This will be issued after a jump order. It means that you jump through a gate and do not move. Do not click anywhere in space. Just do nothing and take a few deep breaths because usually that command is given when you jump into an enemy gatecamp and things are going to turn exciting very soon. Also take a second to sort your overview by name. You will see in the next section why.
- Primary is ... This command is followed by an enemy pilot's name. Hold Ctrl and click on the pilot's name on the overview to achieve a target lock, and then hit them with everything you have. If you are too far away from the primary, then fly closer until you can engage them. If you now have your overview sorted by name, then you will find your target much easier.
- Secondary is ... Again followed by an enemy pilot's name. You lock that pilot too, but you do not hit them yet. The exception is, if your position is such that you happen to be out of range with the primary, but right next to the secondary, and if the primary target is a ship that will go down really quickly anyway. If the primary is a battleship and you are a small gang, your DPS will definitely be needed. If the primary is a cruiser, shooting the secondary is acceptable. Some FCs will call tertiary targets ... the same applies to them.
- Spread Points ... If you have a warp disruptor or warp scrambler (and you probably should have in a PVP fleet), lock up the first hostile you see on your overview that is close enough to be affected and activate the module. A good way to select a target is to take someone whose name starts with the same letter as yours, or the next closest one. Once you have one pointed call "Point on [Pilot Name]. If someone already has called point on the one you were targeting, target and point someone else.
- Weapons free Just attack and shoot whatever you like that's in range. Usually, when you hear this, you can start feeling good about things. An FC will normally only issue this command when success is a certainty.
- Deaggress Means you stop shooting, locking, pointing, everything that you are doing to people from the hostile fleet. Also, if you have drones out, do not forget to recall them. Usually this command is issued with the intention to escape through a gate or dock at a station when your aggression timer has run out, so approach the closest gate or station until you are in jump- or dock range but do not stop moving. Best orbit the gate or orbit a fellow pilot close enough for jumping or docking.
- Overheat You need to have the Thermodynamics skill for that. In it's general form it means to overheat your weapons for maximum damage. Hold Shift and click on your weapon icon to do so. If you want to stop overheating, do the Shift+Click thing again. Sometimes you will be ordered to overheat your propulsion or something else. The Same Shift+Click action works for that too.
- [Role/Name] Down This is not something the FC tells you, but something you tell the FC. You inform the FC that the fleet has lost a ship with a special role if you get killed and you were assigned a special function that the fleet has in limited supply. If you fly in a fleet of thirty blaster fit Thoraxes, you don't call out "Thorax Down" when you get blown up, but if you were one of two jamming ships or a logistics cruiser that the fleet is depending on, it makes sense to announce your loss. If you are sure that the FC knows what you personally are flying, then you can also use your name.
- Scatter/Warp Out/Run When you hear that, it's all about saving yourself. The battle is lost and all you can do is to try and get out alive. Warp to the first faraway thing that you can find on your overview. Ideally a planet. If you can not warp, align your ship in the direction of an object away from the enemy and overheat your propulsion module if you can. You might be able to shake people tackling you or get out of a bubble and still make it, but be prepared to warp your pod instead.
- Clear Coms A family friendly way for an FC to say "Shut the fuck up you bunch of retards!"
- Break/Check Usually called by people other than the FC. Most of the time by a scout. This is meant to get everyone to stop talking and start listening because something important is going to come up. It could even be you who calls a Break because you might have noticed something nobody else did. Like for example if you are the last to jump through a gate and a whole fleet of hostiles landed behind you just before you jumped.
- Chill (or something to that effect) This is the FC telling you that you can drop your guard. Now you can talk about random stuff until you either hear a Break or a Clear Coms.
- X "tack" Y This is not so much a command but a jargon thing. You will hear that in nullsec space when an FC gives destination. Nullsec systems have alphanumeric names like F-YH5B. The hyphen in those names will generally be spoken as "tack" like eff-tack-why-age-five-bee in the given example.
This sums up all generally used FC commands that I can think of. Some corps and alliances might have special codes or commands that I did not list here, but the above should get you through almost any fleet operation without seeming completely clueless.
I wish you good luck out there, and good fights.