Tuesday, May 31, 2011

AT9 Weekend 1 results!

I was so right! Well only 65% right I suppose(21/32).  The first week was exciting, a dangerously close match for RK that left me wishing for more points was of course the highlight for me, but there were other good matches to be had.

The two Red vs Blue teams had no luck in their two difficult matches, and now it looks like Rote will get the honor of matching up against the victorious Perihelion Alliance in the next round, well given that the AT standings don't shift before then. Any team with two wins will automatically qualify to go on to the finals, so we will both be gunning for the win to get there.

Current standings are Here. Be warned, CCP has already made one or two mistakes (since corrected) that have shifted things around a bit, so I will wait for the official announcements, hopefully soon this week before breaking down the upcoming match-ups.

I have to eat a bit of crow here, first, Bacon Gaming Fortress Syndicate, you managed your upset nicely, crushing the setup fielded by NCdot. This proves what I had already assumed was a known fact, that being, EWAR, expecially ECM, based setups have a high chance of failure in the 5v5 rounds. Too much ECM in this fight meant not enough DPS, and I am sure every time they missed a jam, they lost a ship. Good job to Bacon, good luck in the next round, you look to be facing off against The Kadeshi, a challenging matchup if there ever was one. Kudos to Vanguard Imperium for their win vs MM.

Clockwork Pinapple, well let's just say you didn't do so well against the sharp (har har) pilots of Razor. You dropped down to the low bracket list, and have a very small chance of advancing, how could you!

Capital Punishment, I think this quote says it all, "Ynot Eyob also wanted to thank the -CAP- team for a good fight, but admitted that his team won due to intel on the kind of ships the -CAP- team would field." Gotta keep a lid on those setups!

Some notable losers included TEST, Goons, MM, Chained and Controlled Chaos. Better luck next match.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Always toward absent lovers love's tide stronger flows (Part Five)

The assault on the casino started small, a small explosion at the gates as a heavy truck pressed past the reenforced gates like they were hardly there. Automated turrets slid from concealment all around the complex, taking aim at the speeding truck. As they finished deploying the truck shimmered, putting off a cross between heat and static. My equipment was far enough away to not be caught in the blast, but the electro-magnetic pulse was localized enough to damage or disable most of the turrets, their guns locking in place, or slumping ineffectively. The only turrets left operational were on the far side of the complex. Well out of the fight, as was the large truck, now immobile.

Security wasn't long in reacting to the sudden change in environment, groups of dark suited men clumped out of the casino, supplemented by groups of uniformed and hired thugs. I picked up my binoculars and focused in on the group nearest the gatehouse, sporadic gunfire crackling now from both the diversion and ahead from the casino. Both cells seemed to be in full action. Granted they both represented different causes at each spot, but both were working perfectly.

My anarchists slid up the hill, from cover to cover, returning fire, the casino's security guards fighting mostly exposed against the building were taking casualties. A second group of them held the underground exit. They were dishing out as well as they were taking, maybe more so. The teams there had heavier weapons, and were firing from more concealed positions. The tenor of the battle was changing, security forces had much heavier weapons than anticipated.

Some of the security teams were isolated but were taking cover now, having made the distance between the parking lot and garden. The ones that weren't, were either dead or running back inside. A ripping explosion drew me back to the underground parking lot, a thread of smoke led back to the underground lot, a large fireball expanded from what used to be a strong point in the advancing anarchists line. The sight of the scattered terrorists drew my lips into a grimace, I reached down and grabbed my rifle, just in time to see a second missile rip into the anarchists.

Security was turning the tide of the fight, but all might not be lost yet. I pulled the rifle into line, leaning into the scope, snugging the butt of the rifle into my shoulder. I moved the scope over the fight, yet another missile spanning the distance between the now retreating anarchists and the security forces. Scattered groups were running headlong from the fighting now, the warning sounds of sirens moving towards the casino inspired more movement from the anarchists, they were now disengaging wholesale.

I spun the rifle to the back of the casino. I had missed Harcourts driver and security detail move his car to the back entrance. I hadn't missed him leaving, yet. His security was focused mainly towards the now more sporadic gunfire from the front of the casino. The door moved open, my finger tightening on the trigger, it was only 5 maybe 7 feet between door and car. This rifle was special, loading a single, high explosive round. Specially designed to fly to the point of target, it took all the skill out of being a sniper.

First out was Harcourt, his grey eyes scanning the area quickly before reaching behind him to guide his heir, his son out the door. His hair was salt and pepper now, but my intel photographs marked him true. I could feel my mouth curling in disgust at the sight of the little runt and his father. I tracked them both to the car, Harcourts security must have been holding everyone else inside to insure his safe getaway. Next out would be his wife, through all my research on him, I had not been able to find an identity of his wife. The poor woman must want to die, living with such a corrupted, evil man.

His wife was bent over, hiding from the gunshots she perceived aimed at her, raven black hair tickling something in the back of my mind. He covered her to the car, she stood straight just before ducking in. The rifle caught a glimpse of her face and pulled it to the side, the sight stopped me cold. A sudden cold sweat trickled down between my shoulder blades.

The image captured by the gun, was a spitting image of my dead sister, her black hair a different style now, but the scar just above her eye from where her first puppy had bitten her. It haunted me from my dreams, mostly from my nightmares. Here she was, with Harcourt, with their son. The rifle sagged on my shoulder, my finger twitching on the trigger, the round firing high over the car, barely missing Harcourt, striking a security officer in the chest before exploding ageist the wall, the high explosive round shattering the side of the building.

Harcourt's car peeled out from the side of the casino, and tears ran down my cheeks, unabated. My sister was alive, I couldn't kill her and her family like her husband had killed mine. The gun clattered to the ground, single fire self destruct active. It's slow beeping narrating my memories of her. First I saw her when I was just a kid, she was a few years older than me, the oldest of our family. She raised the small dog up to her face, the thing had snapped at her playfully, catching the ring in her eyebrow.  The dog hadn't understood, or cared. She cried out in pure pain, still careful to place the dog on the ground before tending to her wound.

In less than a week she had been back with the dog, her face roughly bandaged, she loved that dog. I hadn't seen her since the day before we'd been attacked. I checked the records when I had been freed, slavers didn't keep accurate records, anything but a count. I'd tried but had never been able to find anything. I refocused, and realized I had left the roof, my body doing it's best to keep me safe a vague memory of the beeping growing in intensity as the det charge on the rifle grew nearer to execution.

For the first time I wished I had never left TXW, I desperately wanted to be back with Usagi. I moved through the hallways of the hotel like a ghost, reaching the lobby from the emergency stairs as the sniper rifle exploded on the roof. Security and police rushed by, ignoring the crying Minmatar exiting the building. I didn't attempt to conceal my capsuleer status as I exited, reaching the station, transferring more money to the anarchists I had left behind. They would have to tend for themselves. I numbly travelled back to the station just a planet distant, enabling my neocom just long enough to buy a shuttle and prep it for launch. It would take less than 24 hours to travel back to TXW.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Always toward absent lovers love's tide stronger flows (Part Four)

Nobody had came out into the alley when the screams started, or stopped. I had to leave the knife behind, but at least I had a name. A name I hadn't heard of before. The name had turned quickly into a dead end, perhaps he had been lying, or too far gone to tell the truth. Nobody had known who he was talking about. Maybe it was just his name I ended up with, or worse a new player I didn't know.

Frustrated, I had cursed the lost time, and re-focused on the real reason I was there. For the first time in years one of the slave traders linked to my enslavement even more years ago, would be out in the open, more importantly, with his family. It would only be fair, he and his family for mine. It would be a waste of assets in this place to kill him, but I was well past worrying about those ramifications.

First I had to flush him into the open, for that I had to use some of the cells to form a diversion. Yesterday, after the attack on me I had heard rumors that my target, and family, had showed up to the same casino they would be today, betting and watching the capsuleers Alliance tournament. One cell would rush the casino, eliminating the guards, while another distracted the local police, with a suicide bombing aimed at their headquarters just blocks away.

I couldn't bring myself to call him by name, Harcourt Durand. He had financed the raid on the backwater colony my family had lived on. The raiders had been brutal in separating men from wives, parents from children, in an effort to keep them all under control. Honestly, it hadn't taken much to find his involvement, his financing for these kinds of raids wide-spread in their notoriety. It was just a shame the slaver who had actually done the work had died before I had gained my freedom.

The Casino grounds were wide, spread out in a show of luxury on an otherwise back-water planet. It wasn't well known, but it was well protected, and well designed. Automated defenses did most of the work, covering the approaches and doors with equal vigilance. Probably using the most sophisticated intelligence and sensors to determine threat from guest, likely under the direct fire control of one or two controllers in the security building.

I hadn't had any hand in helping the cell design their attack on the Casino, to them it was a symbol of the corruption in this sector. Money that should have gone into their schools, or to promote more jobs in the area went instead into helping build this. It wouldn't be long now before they got their chance for some payback.

I moved to the other corner of the overlooking building, towards the diversion, but left the massive rifle where it lay at the casino's corner, next the the rumpled security officer I'd found up here. He'd recover, but that recovery would be slowed by the drugs I'd put in his system to keep him quiet and out of the way for the next hour or more.

The diversion was the classical choice, a nondescript government building, some kind of tax organization or another. The important factor was it was a easy target, the cell hitting it was small, and expendable. Their plan I had fully vetted, the diversion being usually more important than the main attack. Some of their number would slide into the building, others waiting just around the corner. The advanced group would take out security camera's and guards without anyone sounding the alert. The plan didn't hinge on the lack of an alert, but it helped.

Once security was down, the other teams would rush in and get as many people out as they could, while others planted the bombs. Then they would also evacuate the building. Anyone left inside would be collateral damage. It was harsh, but the more attention pulled there would be the less response to the casino. I wrapped my hands around my binoculars, waiting…


I didn't see or hear anything for a long time, each minute that passed made my heart rise in my chest, I wandered back to the other side of the building using the scope to scan the casino. Harcourt's vehicle was already there, he and his family safely inside through one of the underground entrances, but after the attack, there would be no where to go but out the doors and into his car. Looking back over at the federal building, nerves ran amok in my head. I started running through everything that could go wrong. Not that I could expect to hear from that team until the explosion, I just wish I could have heard anything.

Police radios and emergency networks were too encrypted to listen-in to easily, so all I could do was wait. I heard and then saw first one and then a second police car whine around the building I was in at high speed, headed directly for the diversion, their passing directly preceding the whip-snap of high velocity gunfire in the distance, muted by the streets. I checked the timeline, no surprise one of the guards, or the automated system had alerted. It was already a race against time.

I pounded my fist against the side of the roof, heading back to my binoculars to watch. I couldn't see anything through them, just watch the steady stream of police headed in that direction, fire and medical units passing by slowly, well behind the line of fire. Some one must have detonated a bomb early, the single loud crack and sudden surge of smoke over the rooftops confirming it.

A ripple of other cracks sounded shortly afterwards, deep black smoke bellowing from the middle of the city, the diversion had been successful, to a point at least, two more police patrols passed the bottom of the five story building I stood atop. Now for the main attraction.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Always toward absent lovers love's tide stronger flows (Part Three)

My bed felt empty when I woke, I allowed myself a few minutes for my mind to catch up with my body. I had landed here just under 24 hours ago, between organizing weapons, and talking to contacts I had only made it back to my second apartment in the city at just past day midnight as they called it here.  That'd be roughly 0500 standard, still hours before sunrise, actually just heading into dark, a rough 3 hours ago. Days were long, but so were the nights.

I had been recognized by the various cell leaders I managed to contact yesterday. A interesting group of fighters if I had ever met any. The thing about creating a stimulus was you didn't need to find people who's views matched yours exactly, just ones with influence, resources, and malice usually were good enough. The first group had started out as a militia going nowhere quickly, looking to expand their credibility by pulling off something "large." They'd be the hired muscle in this case, lots of guns, very little experience or intelligence. A perfect distraction.

Some of my other cells, though I doubt they would love being called that if they found out who else they were 'working' with, included various independent hackers, anarchist groups, and a single old Rote crewman who had grown tired of the good life after retiring from a STUGH battleship just after AT8. Likely just after watching my Bhaalgorn get torn to pieces. He had been most helpful, but wouldn't be participating further.

I slid out of bed, still mostly dressed, I had left my boots on, the shirt resting over a chair close to the bed. Today would be my chance to get ready, and clear any remaining trail back to me. A rustle drew my attention to the wooden, though metal reinforced front door. Feet moved on the other side and I tensed, soft whispers just barely registering with my enhanced hearing.

My time was up in this apartment, I grabbed my leather jacket, my mind taking off at incredible speed, the apartment was on the second floor, overlooking a convenient escape stairwell mounted to the side of the building. Windows be damned, I plowed through, my crash corresponding to crash of some kind of ram, or person slamming into the front door of what was previously my apartment. I landed sideways on the stairs, using my momentum to propel me over my back and onto my feet, tearing off down the single flight of stairs, my booted feet crunching noisily in the alleyway. I looked back just in time to see a pinched Amarr face peer out the window.

Looking out like that always confused me and I wished for a weapon to reduce my tail by one. I barreled around the corner, just as three pursuers, including the Amarrian, made it onto the balcony. They were too slow by seconds, sheer luck had saved me this time. I wasn't clear yet.

My heart beat in my ears, drowning out the sound of any pursuit, and of my footsteps. I pounded down one street and then the next, ducking into the dark alleyway, noticing for the first time the oppressive darkness all around and the chill in the air. Implants activated deep in my skull, lightening the surrounds, a small overlay map appearing in view at just the right place. It networked sounds and sensory inputs too small for my brain to make out to map the local area, just two angry red place markers falling off behind me. I threw on my coat to combat the cold and mute my sounds a bit, aiming towards a corner that would hopefully lead me back to a main street, where ambush was less likely.

I near slid to a stop around the next corner, the Ammarian inches away from me, slug thrower raised just below my shoulder level. A bad place for him, especially given the surprise registering on his face, he must not have expected me so soon. My body crouched, more by instinct than command, my right arm was leading around the corner, it popped up slam against the gun-holding fore arm, jarring the gun up and to the side, the bang of the gun rattled my eardrums, some kind of hasty suppressor reducing the crash of the high velocity slug to a bark.

The Amarrian, to his credit, did not wait to see if his shot had landed, his other hand was already in motion, heading towards a nasty looking knife concealed in the folds of his pants. It came up towards me with incredible speed. My left hand met his just above his wrist, denying his first thrust by redirecting it outwards, my right arm and hand pivoting to twist around his right, taking the gun out of the fight while I was able to stay inside his arm span.

My left hand balled and struck while his side was exposed, striking his exposed armpit before I came at him again, my fist connecting with the side of his face, sending him limply to the ground, his face bleeding, or possibly that was my knuckles. I realized I was still holding his gun arm, and relieved him of the gun, a smallish caliber pistol, well worn, with a improvised silencer attached to the end.  The two other goons crested the turn behind me, winging barking shots off the wall next to us both. I ducked back, considering taking the Amarrian out of the fight, more permanently.

The two other goons took that option away from me by charging me in a show of sheer bravery. One that I ended with three shots, the first one, quiet, impacted in the ground next to goon one's boot. The next took goon two just below the sternum, dropping him mid run to the floor as the impact and exit of the bullet separated his spine from his body, tossing it all over the ground behind him. No body armor, I mentally noted, and moved on to my next shot. One that should have missed, but goon one, failing to continue his luck from the first shot, dove towards me. Firing his gun, like a bad holo-drama, as he flew through the air towards the ground. Not surprisingly, his shots missed by a wide margin. My third shot was headed for the ground, an easy miss if the goon hadn't dove towards it, bullet three met goon one's eyeball and exploded, with the bullet and remnants of his brain, out the back of his head. It was the kind of crazy thing that can only happen in a fight for life and death.

The Amarrian stirred at my feet and I have him a short, sharp kick to the side of his head for his trouble, reaching down to take the knife from his limp hand. My map resolved in my vision again, apparently the Amarrian hadn't gotten so much in front of me as I had run in a tight circle, taking two lefts, a right and then three lefts. I smirked, nearly as smart as some of the things I said to Usagi. It was time to see who, and why. The knife was deceptively sharp for it's size, I made sure to dull the blade on the wall while waiting for my visitor to wake. It also took about that long for my hands to stop trembling.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Always toward absent lovers love's tide stronger flows (Part two)

It always was a thrill sneaking through security, though basically perfect forgeries and identities were a dime a dozen for someone with the resources of a capsuleer, sneaking past a Federal ID checkpoint always served to pour in the adrenaline. One person ahead of me, a short, loud and rather foul smelling Intaki businessman chatted with the security as they read through his paperwork. Though corruption had fairly gutted most of the credibility of anyone on this planet but the federal guards, they were still serious. I moved up, my turn.

The fedralist stared at my ID and then back up to me, quiet as he regarded yet another minmatar worker staring down at him. He took his time checking my name against various warrants, known criminals, CONCORD pirates. I showed up in none, well, I guess I should say that my current ID showed up in none of the databases and I was shuttled through as just another traveller, a migrant worker even, my pod jacks hidden by the tall collars of my currently in fashion jacket. It was a small grace against the hot wind blowing in from outside, but a welcome distraction from any further questions.

I had taken more detours and shuttles than I could count. If it weren't for the small computer keeping track of my movements, I would have been lost by now.  Instead after just short of 24 hours of travel, and 20 hours of sleep. I was inside the, well let's just call it, personal hell. At least it wouldn't be for much longer, if everything went to plan.

It had been a while since I last stepped foot planet side. Dust tickled my nose as I stepped outside, the planets 1.13g, more than what I was used to, but not uncomfortably so. To fit in a bit more I had removed the spikes from my forehead, dropping them off along the way, along with my other piercings. It was tough to fit in more than that, even on a Gallente world.

The first stop was to a small apartment I rented months prior, a change of clothes immersing me into the local culture. Tight leather greyish pants hugged my body closely, a red and white slashed t-shirt covered my chest, I slipped of my more simple sneakers in favor of heavier boots. I stopped by the mirror, chuckling at the image, briefly wondering what Usagi would think. Turning slightly, I think I knew. I waited for the flush of that thought to clear my cheeks before heading back out.

My usual mohawk somewhat subdued after hours of travel, drooping more from the heat in the air. Moving through the streets unnoticed was easy, even if people had been paying attention. Eyes down, minding my own business I easily escaped notice of the three Police just outside the hotel, not that anyone would have reason to expect any trouble. I certainly didn't. The lobby was nice enough, squalor by podder standards of course, a simple polished rock entry way, with a small bar to the left.

The bar was less than impressive, the heat in the bar some ten times that of the outside.  Probably to let the men and women inside wear as little clothing as possible. The heat formed pinpricks of sweat on my forehead, joined quickly by the rest of my body. I brushed the sweat off my forehead irritably with the back of my hand, scanning the bar, heading to one of the tables in the back.

I had to weave through several throngs of dancing teens, the table I was headed to had five occupants already, a bit older than the rest of the crowd, but still unconsciously swaying to the beat of the music thrumming through the air.

They turned as I approached, one of their team holding a gun on me. I hoped they remembered me, or I would be off to a bad start.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Always toward absent lovers love's tide stronger flows (Part one)

I awoke slowly, the soft buzz of my alarm in the back of my ear, waking me and not my sleeping companion. Our naked bodies were twisted together, meeting in the most intimate of places. I looked down her back, noting with a satisfied grin the scratch marks on her back, my hand innocently cupping her hip, the sheets half covering us both.

I lay there for a moment, enjoying her so soft skin against mine. I willed my hand to slide down and squeeze her supple ass, her back arching, pressing against me as I did. I let out a quiet noise of approval, running, no, scratching, my fingertips up the curve of her ass before removing my hand from her.

I disengaged my body reluctantly from Usagi's, leaning down to kiss her neck as I withdrew, intentionally leaving the covers where they lay. The view was more than worth it. Picture worthy even, soft light pushing through the tinted window in my bedroom doing wonderful things to the curves of her body. Wonderful enough to consider getting back into bed and waking her, again, but the annoying, insistent inner ear drone of my alarm wouldn't let me. I turned to my closet, blindly reaching in for a pair of pants and shirt hanging there, my eyes unwilling to leave the sight on the bed for long. The cool shirt slid over my chest, over the red marks left by her fingers, on my back and covering the marks on my chest from her teeth, yes, it had been a good night.

There was a soft Napanii murmur behind me as I turned around, looking back at her, this time her eyes on me, and I couldn't tell if she was enjoying the show or sad to see me go, or both. Technically we were in my quarters, but I was still the one leaving. I pulled on my pants, grabbing finally for the jacket strewn on the floor, I took one last, long, glance over my shoulder and then stepped out.  I had spent more of my time looking at Usagi then getting ready, and was already late.


The next four days would be critical, various cells were becoming impatient, and understandably so. I had set them up for years. Carefully plotted their hate and ambition to meet the needs of my cause instead of theirs. Taking each cell and placing them carefully at the throats of others. I took my seat on the small, inconspicuous shuttle for second time in as many weeks. Last week had just been observation, watching, testing, putting final things in play.

This weekend wasn't just going to be the opening rounds of this years Alliance Tournament, but the settling of a score long overdue. I leaned back into the seat, muttering about the overly long loading time, even though the loading time had saved me from missing the shuttle entirely. The flight times of the interbus shuttles would seem forever as opposed to flying myself, but I needed to be unnoticed. I closed my eyes, the image of Usagi on my bed appearing behind my eyelids, a small involintary grin appearing on my lips, her smoldering gaze looking up at me, it sent a pleasant, if sad shiver up my spine. My eyes snapped open when the hiss of the shuttle compressing met my ears.

I turned to the small window, watching the ship slide out of the TXW-EL station, headed towards Vestouve and Empire, a STUGH and then Veto. vagabond undocking in unison, their capsuleers blissfully unaware of our shuttle just to the side of them, the lean HACs twisting towards the 5-F gate. I turned away from the window, tucking my hand under my chin, willing the time to pass faster. Settling this score would be nice, but at this point, getting back might even be nicer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

AT9 Week 1 predictions

Thankfully after the initial blip of the banning rule, since outlawed, rules from last year have been largely unchanged, the main addition being the new qualifying rounds of 5v5 instead of 10v10. It will be interesting to see how many copycat setups from last year we will see come 10v10 time. First it's time for the new 5v5 rounds. 50 total points and a max of 5 pilots per side should speed things up and change the mechanics of each fight significantly.

Another interesting thing to note is the addition of pilots who flew with each other last year now being a part of different teams. GENOS spent some time in PL before breaking off in time to rejoin Hydra Reloaded and form a team there.  PL will of course be fielding it's team from years past. Meanwhile, some members of GENOS left to join Goons and Rens911 to field their team.

The main contention will be if setups with don't use the 12 point Logistics cruiser in 5v5 will be outclassed by the ones who do. One on hand the Logi can deal out impressive reps, keeping things alive under all kind of DPS especially t2 ships, but using that 12 points elsewhere can significantly increase the punch of the ice ships you do have by allowing the addition of another DPS ship.  T3's also seem, to me, to be very powerful here with their mix of EHP and DPS, and inherent strengths vs ewar offered in a smaller engagement. How many t3 setups will we be seeing, and of those how many will be anything other than the boring Tengu setups that I expect?

Only time will tell. Match pairings for the first weekend have been posted, and there are some oldies to the tourney as well as some newcomers, even some alt based alliances. It will be an interesting ride. Good luck to all.

Saturday 28th

15:00 White Noise. vs. Majesta Empire - White Noise wasn't in AT8, but I have high hopes for them this time. Majesta Empire did better than I expected last year, getting into the round of 32, before being put out of the tourney by The Wrong Alliance. They fielded solid setups, so it will be a tough call.  I think White Noise. loses a close one here.

15:20 Outbreak vs. RvB - Blue Republic - Blue Republic is another newcomer but as a PvP focused and high-sec war focused Alliance I think they have a pretty strong group of pilots to pull from, I wonder if they will be able to show their skills here against a very good Outbreak team.  Outbreak nor Blue were in at8, but Outbreak is a classy, solid, pvp organization. Their experience and sp will pull through here.

15:40 The R0NIN vs. Ushra'Khan - Both teams did well in at8, R0NIN advanced to the round of 16, Ushra dropped at the round of 32. It'll be a tough matchup, so we will go to the fittings and team setups they used from last year. Both teams fielded a Bhaal in their final match and lost. I can't argue with those kinds of risks, The R0NIN will edge out a win here.

16:00 GoonSwarm vs. Wildly Inappropriate - With Goons under new tourney management, I imagine, I'm betting they will be much improved, well able to handle WI.  An easy choice.

16:20 Paisti Syndicate vs. Transmission Lost - LOST is a newcomer and look like a combination lowsec, 0.0 and WH alliance. They will be facing off against tourney regulars, the Paisti Syndicate.  Last year the Paisti Syndicate lost to eventual AT winners PL in the round of 16, their minmatar-heavy setup failing to do any damage to the strong PL setup.  That being said, they offed a few good teams on their route to that loss and will provide stiff to overwhelming competition for LOST.

16:40 Get Off My Lawn vs. Raiden. - LAWN, man I love these guys.  They did let me down a few times last year, losing to The R0NIN and then being put out of the tourney by Dystopia alliance. Geeze! Raiden. wasn't an alliance last tourney, formed of some of the better ex-Bobbits, so I have high hopes for them this year.  It'll be close but I'm going to root for LAWN!

17:00 Northern Coalition. vs. Bacon Fortress Gaming Syndicate - NCdot, Bacon, I just, don't, know, wtf, fail.

17:20 The G0dfathers vs. United Front Alliance - G0dfathers lost to CVA in the round of 32 last year, and have to still feel bad about that! Dirty role-players. United didn't participate last year, but are a large, Sov-holding NC alliance. I'll try not to hold that against either of them.  G0d's is my guess.

18:20 Electric Monkey Overlords vs. Reverberation Project - I've never heard of Reverberation Project before, but looking at their KB, I'm honestly not impressed, at all, come on guys, they do have a good logo though. EMO has a great name and I went with them last year, so EMO again this year. I hope Mannar, Elarel, and Schoor are still treating them well.

18:40 Babylon 5.. vs. SOLAR FLEET - Bab wasn't in it last year, But SOLAR was, making it into the round of 32 before being put out by the Panda Team. They had a solid showing up until that point, and I will take them in this match.

19:00 B A N E vs. Corcoran State - I think the Corcoran state is a pretty solid lock for a loss here, just like when they lost their space in Geminate, oh snap!  B A N E, minus all the spaces, are solid, low-sec pirates last time I bothered to look. In any case they should have little trouble with Corcoran.

19:20 Test Alliance Please Ignore vs. BricK sQuAD. - TEST vs "alliance veterans" BricK. It's a tough call here, Brick did well last year, but failed to make it into the final week after Cry Havoc easily crushed their Minmatar heavy setup with a Mach heavy setup.  They won their first match handily, using a Tengu based setup to out spam the opposition. TEST has a chance to surprise early, but it will be against tough opposition.  My money will rest with Brick in this early matchup.

19:40 Lack of Imagination vs. Atlas. - Lack seemed the poster-child of an alt alliance when I saw it's some 29 members and 3 corps, but I did some further investigation, and they do include the more or less active hellsrejects, so perhaps they will have some combat pilots. It's going to take a lot for them to be able to fight against the talent that Atlas can bring to bear.

20:00 Rote Kapelle vs. Black Legion - I privately envy their Muninn based fleets in 0.0, almost worth giving a copy-fleet a chance!  Maybe sometime after we win! GL Black Legion, love your killboard.

20:20 POWER OF TWO vs. Smacked Alliance - Smacked Alliance seems to be mostly lowest and WH space, but look pretty good, some of their members filing up 60+ kills a week. POWER on the other hand is a solid Russian based corp, I believe they have some good pilots but I am not sure.  It's a tough call.  I'm not sure who will win this one but I'll go with Smacked Alliance.

20:40 Unaffiliated vs. Legion of the Damned - Unaffiliated, long time residents and irritants in Syndicate are solid PvPers, but that hasn't translated into success in the AT's.  I predict more of the same for the poor folks of U, with the newcomers, Legion of the Damned taking the win to close out day 1.

Sunday 29th

15:00 RvB - Red Federation vs. Perihelion Alliance - The other half of red vs blue, the red fed show up here.  Similar detractors and to the blue fed.  They face tough opposition in Perihelion alliance. They stood out to me last year, facing touch competition in AAA and MM. Though they lost to both, their matches came down to the very close end.  They fielded solid setups both times and had poor luck against what they faced. Experience will be key here.

15:20 The Obsidian Front vs. Capital Punishment - Looks like these guys have met in space before. Though only briefly and more of a gank than a fight.  My money is begrudgingly on Cap Punishment, especially if they have Maraner as one of their FC's.

15:40 Negative Ten vs. The SPACE POLICE - Another tough fight to predict. Both were in at8 and had some rough opponents, all pre-requirements to doing better this year.  This will definitely be a test of wills, I'll say Negative Ten, they didn't field any Drakes or Tengu's last year though their cane, rupture setup didn't quite get them through.

16:00 Curatores Veritatis Alliance vs. The Conglomeration of Ill Advised Ideas - Ill Advised Idea's.  Hmmmm, I haven't heard of them before, and by the look of their 6 sub 10 member corps, they are either another alt alliance OR a small group who doesn't PvP much.  I'll say alt alliance.  CVA should walk through this one.

16:20 Mos Vape Heavy Industries vs. The Kadeshi - The Kadeshi split their matches last year, not quite qualifying for the finals. Mos Vape on the other hand chose to send one of their members off in style their second match, deploying hull tanking Mega Navy Issues. Mos also lost their first match, though it was closer than their second. My vote is with the Kadeshi for this match.

16:40 The Star Fraction vs. Intrepid Crossing - While -SF- might at one point have won this matchup, or at least be expected to put on a good show, after last years disappointing, to say the least, performance, I just can't back them. Intrepid Crossing on the other hand, made good their first round loss last year with a solid second round victory mainly focused around Tengu/Drake and rook setups, both times.  That's the problem with ECM setups, sometimes you win with ease, and others not so much!

17:00 Morsus Mihi vs. Vanguard Imperium - The Khanid role-players have a tough matchup in the first round vs Morsus Mihi who have managed to do very well in the past. Vanguard is part of the NC I believe and have fought hard for their space, but I doubt that will do much to stop MM. It will be a close fight.

17:20 Ishuk-Raata Enforcement Directive vs. Nulli Secunda - I-RED moved out to Syndicate a bit ago, but I haven't had any direct experience with them so far. This HAS to mean they fail at PvP! I-RED's new to the tourney this year. Matching up favorably against them is nulli, 0.0 sov holders around delve, also tourney newcomers this year. I have to lean towards Nulli given some of I-RED's losses.

18:20 Aggravated Assault vs. Sev3rance - Aggravated must be unhappy that CCP decided to spell their name wrong, for that slight I think they have the power to sever Sev. All things being equal, Aggravated Assault are relatively small, but operate in 0.0 with 126 members. Sev lives in Vale and PB, with about 821 members. Neither of them were in last years tourney, so I will go with the unknown here.  Aggravated Assault all the way!

18:40 RAZOR Alliance vs. Clockwork Pineapple - I'd love to see Clockwork work over RAZOR here but both are very competent so it will be a close fight. GROON wasn't the last at, but RAZOR was.  It's a tough choice because the RAZOR team was rather, err sharp, in it's matches.  My vote is with my Syndicate brethren, Clockwork Pineapple!

19:00 Adeptus Arbetus vs. Against All Authorities - AAA without a doubt on this one, still remember our epic battle with them last year, unless those people have moved on, I actually have no idea. Some Adeptus research, they weren't in at8, and seem to be a steadily growing alliance looking to solidify their name in AT9, after some trouble with -SF- and their freestation in Providence. It will be a tough match for their entry into AT9, I think AAA will be up to the task.

19:20 Important Internet Spaceship League vs. Chain of Chaos - IISL made it to the round of 32 last year before being put out by Atlas alliance. Their setups were solid, if a little light on numbers, all the way through their final loss coming after dispatching the 14 billion isk Flagship Bhaalgorn of Atlas.  Chain aka NAWTI is a stead pirate alliance in and around Eve's lowsec, facing up against IISL will be a challenge though they have met in the past, distant past. NAWTI has a well deserved reputation as fighters and will look to extend that reputation on IISL.  It will be a close match, but I think IISL has the slight edge heading in.

19:40 Ignore This. vs. Dead on Arrival - Ignore This. is a newcomer to the AT, their alliance centered around a single corp but their kill-board looks above average, so there might be some home for them. They have been operating in Fountain with G0d's against TEST and IISL, killing more than a few caps last week alone. I'm not sure what that has to do with the tourney, but there you have it. Dead on arrival on the other hand looks to be a WH corp that goes around and kills people, in the face. Oh wait, they just want to kill people, but don't actually get that many kills? Their killboard leaders have about 47 kills... I'm not sure they are going to have what it takes to face off against the pilots of Ignore This. but test server time could prove me wrong.

20:00 Wild Boars vs. Controlled Chaos - Man, I don't know about this one. Both of their killboards look pretty good, Controlled Chaos is a sov holding alliance, in Pure Blind and Tribute, while Wild Boars look to be a 0.0 PvP alliance basing out of Tribute.  It'll be a close fight for sure, but I think Controlled Chaos will come out on top.

20:20 Waterboard vs. Circle-of-Two - Circle of Two put in some great fights last year, winning their first three matches and making it to the round of 16. I'm happy to see them in again this year, their matches were well executed with strong setups. Oh, did I mention they flew Freki's in the last tourney? Yeah, and lost 2 of them in their match against Voltron that put them out of the tourney.  Now that takes some balls. I hope to see more of the same this year. Waterboard on the other hand, seem to operate out of NC space, holding a small pocket of sov up there. I just don't see Circle being slowed down here.

20:40 The Initiative vs. Dark Taboo - Well anyone who password protect their killboard have to be bitches, see CVA. Taboo claim to have sov, but Dotlan says they don't so my guess is renters somewhere either North or South, they also claim to be "the balance between being too big and too small." Their recruitment, or rather intro page is more like a litany of bad cliche's. 700ish members and 30+ corps, doesn't look that good. Thus The initiative look even better than usual in this matchup. Init boasts some strong corps like Evol as well as DRUCKWELLE Evolution. Last at nither of them too part, because of that the match will be closer than it should be but Init will still walk through this one.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The right height.

The past couple days had gone by in a grumpy haze. I had gone out in fleets, or at least tried too, but not even that had eased my mood. Despite the bomber kill I got while trying to stir up trouble.

I sighed, staring into the terminal screen, noting that I would once again not be able to make it to the Friday night fleet, one I had hoped to make this week, and not just because I had promised Cass my guardian.  I wish I had another glass to throw.

I stood and stepped out of my bedroom, making my way over to my well stocked bar.  Well, kitchen I suppose it was called, not that I bothered cooking all that often anymore. I pushed around some bottles, mentally shutting down the nanites that swarmed my blood usually, keeping me from getting drunk, sick, drugged, or otherwise killed and took a long pull from a older, half full bottle of tequila. The stuff always got me into trouble.

It burned all the way down to the pit of my stomach, as did the second and third gulps. I took a deep breath and turned, placing my hands on the island sat in the middle of my kitchen, looking out the window into TXW. I just couldn't keep my mind from wandering, stood there for some time, staring out into space but seeing anything but. Everyone's got their own demons, women always happened to be mine.

Idly I reached back to the bottle of tequila lifting it to my lips a few more times, the warm feeling spreading from my stomach down my arms and legs. Whispered thoughts and ideas coming into clarity and then action.  I primped a bit before leaving, clean shirt, pants, hair more organized than usual, adding a little more cologne to cover the smell of the tequila I could feel in my veins.

I checked the clock, 0225, she was notorious for showing up to fleets, in pod, ready to go, very early. It would be hard to explain to her she needed to come out of her pod for them to speak.  I checked the pilot status board, she was still in her quarters.

I won't say my pace was calm and unhurried, but I somehow managed to avoid looking like a fool at a dead run to the spot I had planned for my ambush. It was nearly unavoidable, between her quarters and her ships, hopefully the right spot.

My back pressed up against the cool steel of the hallways to the pilots quarters in TXW, I nodded to other passing pilots and crew as they headed to their hangars, readying for tonights fleet. I'm just waiting here, trying to look like part of the wall.  Waiting for her to walk by.

I had time to reflect on what exactly brought me here.

I'm tired of waiting to see if she just wants to flirt with me and tease me, or something, anything else. I sigh sadly, my stomach dropping a bit as I try not to think about that too much. The liquid courage running through my body will only work as long as I don't think about that.

Subtle movement out of the corner of my eye as she turns the corner and sees me, thankfully alone. I don't give anything, but recognition, time to pass through her features before one of my long arms slides around her waist, pulling her towards me as I twist my body around, pushing her gently, but firmly against the wall. I've made sure not to box her in but to escape my grasp she has to head back the way she came, or pass all the way around me.  Her eyes flashed hotly, I didn't stop.

I leaned down, kissing up her neck, towards her ear. My hand slid down her narrow waist and over the flair of her hip, moving around to cup and lift her ass towards me suggestively. Thus forcing her body to arch towards mine. I leaned towards, my lips just barely grazing her ear, my words so soft, they don't carry past her ear "I think you should be headed towards my quarters after this fleet, of sex."

I release her ass, lowering her off her toes. Disengaging myself from her and slide around the corner, heading the long route, back to my quarters. It takes all my willpower not to look back at that corner. I turn the first corner away and realize I hadn't been breathing, my mouth popping open, gulping down lungfuls of semi-stale station air.


I kept the alliance kills list open on my terminal as I work, watching minutes roll by without any significant action, judging my chances tonight by the billboard.  It looks bleak for a long while, until reports of battle filter down into the kill table, she's killed 3 ships more or less on her own, the fleet is on it's way back to the station. I get a chill that runs down to my toes, half excitement, half pure dread. I shove it all back in my mind, headed for the shower.

Barely free from the shower, but dry at least, I slide on my pants, proxy alarms beeping somewhere deep in my eardrum, someone was approaching my door. I pull my shoes on, leaving them untied, hopeful I know. Just reaching for a shirt as the main "someone's at your door" buzz slides through my rooms. A single quick glance at the monitor confirmed it was her, alone.

Pulling my shirt over my head was never elegant, the three spikes planted there made sure of that. I managed with a minimum of hassle even while narrowly avoiding tripping, sliding the hallway door closed. The door opened to reveal Usagi, I could have stopped myself, but didn't want to, needing a quick mental picture of her standing there in my door.  It ended up not being a quick mental picture, my eyes moving down her body.  Regaining some sense took a few seconds, but I stood to the side, "glad you could make it gorgeous, please come in."

'Charming,' I said to myself, hiding my self grimace as she stepped in. She looked around before turning to face me, her back to the island in the middle of his kitchen.  The position made me think of how much easier it would be if he just forced her over that counter, it looked the right height. Her voice, slightly higher pitched met my ears. "Was glad you asked me to come." Probably choking back laughter. Most capsuleers would be laughing at the small space, but it was all he needed, here at least.

The door slid closed, unnoticed, behind them, the same metallic rumble whisking the door closed.  I smiled, feeling my cheeks heat up a bit, remembering. "I'm not sure 'asked' is the right word to use, but I needed to do something, short of stewing in here for another night."  Her eyes had caught mine and I found it suddenly difficult to talk.  I had learnt from last time this happened and just kept my mouth shut for a moment.

I broke the silence, "may I get you anything?" Me perhaps? My arm saved me indicating the stash of booze behind me.  Though I wasn't sure if it was indicating the booze or just re-emphasizing that I was included in the anything.

It seemed she had gotten her laughter under control now, mostly, her voice had returned to normal. "Whatever you're having is fine." Her eyes moved off mine to look at the stash behind me, I thought I caught a twinkle in them as she looked at all the booze. My free hand slid around hers, my body requiring that I touch her, make sure this is all real. How she wasn't slammed up against the island already was a mystery, I was barely holding that part of myself together.

I blurted out, "you look great." pulling her closer as I said that, my right fingertips tracing up her side, having to go some distance before finding a shirt under her jacket. My eyes held her gaze, the distraction of her skin carried the pause on uncomfortably.

Simply Casanova, I was, more like how was she still even here.  I realized I didn't have any glasses, umm, on-hand. "I uh, don't exactly have a" moron "glass right now…" A nervous laugh spilled out of my lips. "I hope something out of the bottle is okay?"  M-O-R-O-N. I forced myself to shut up internally.

She blushed, likely from embarrassment, of me, but her smile still made my knee's a little shaky. "Bottle is fine, thank you.  I…"

You are still an idiot… SHUT UP! Ahem.

"I probably have some extra glasses I could give you…." she trailed off looking up at me and then down to my hand around hers. "…assuming you need them…" I stepped closer to her, her soft, clean scent hitting my nostrils memorably, "No, I'm sure I'll eventually get around to buying more, they much such a satisfying crash when thrown properly too."

It hit me just then, I was a complete ass, and rambling, I apologized, and offered her a seat.  Graciously she replied "It's okay, I enjoy listening." I knew that meant she didn't need for me to continue.

"I have the couch there, and the table if you prefer?" I smiled, "I'll sit on the table." Where was that bravado I had just a few hours ago? Damn tequila. I grabbed two bottles from behind me, watching her move away, her body moving with the soft grace that belies speed. I stripped my eyes from her swaying ass, and looked at the two bottles that had won by default.

"It would be rude of me to take your seat." I looked up and she stood next to the couch, a private smile on her face. I reply with "Umm, Tequila and Vodka." I slide into my couch, towards the middle, reaching up to grab the front of her pants, twisting her into my lap, for the most part, her ass on one of my thighs, her face just inches from mine.

Her being that close, that sweet smell, the warmth of her body, my hands went white around the bottles, my other arm providing a sort-of back rest for her. I resisted tearing at her like a animal, turning all that desire into a grin, looking up into her beautiful blue eyes. Mumbling something about her choice of seating, I just stared into her eyes. She took the Vodka bottle, placing it on the table next to us before sliding herself out of her jacket. Leaning down to show off her lower back tattoo, bluish-black it resembled the Gurista's design, with a Usagi touch to it. That detail added to the mental images didn't help, one bit.

I looked down, stuck with the Tequila bottle… shit. "You would leave me with the tequila bottle, stuff gets me in trouble." So far, this time it had been good trouble, I popped open the top with one hand. "Enjoy the trouble you bring upon yourself!" A little toast to lighten the mood, right?  I meant to take a quick gulp, but found my mouth inundated with tequila, forced now, I was swallowing quickly, the tequila fire spread down my back, a hot shiver following the liquid.

Usagi took a large pull off the Vodka bottle, grinning as she took it easily. "Terrible." Looking back down her body I notice her short tank top, showing off her stomach, my free hand, curing around her back to run fingertips over her stomach. I looked back over to her, lust rising, quipping back, "yes it looks terrible," I acted as if I was going to stand, not that I could, for more than one reason. "Should I get you something else?..."

Usagi leveraged her hips and arms, pushing me back against the couch, her voice all at once an authoritative, undeniably seductive and emphatic no. I couldn't have stood after that, and didn't want to. My fingers, on the damned soft, smooth skin of her back, tracing small patterns.  Fingers spanning and contracting on her low back. Just touching her made me shiver, "I think that's the first smart thing either of us has said all night." I joked, before taking another long pull from the tequila to hide my self-satisfied grin.

She took another drink, as if winding up for something big, tossing the vodka bottle back on the table, sliding around me quickly, hotly, her legs to either side of mine now, hand wrapping around… the tequila bottle, taking a swig from it as well, before placing it behind her on the table as well. Her hips groung into into mine, biting my lower lip was the only prevention from groaning out loud.

I released my lip just as she leaned down and kissed me, her body pressing into mine in JUST the right way, her lips parting a bit, teasingly letting me taste the vodka and tequila on her lips. It was the first time she'd kissed my lips, the electricity was definitely there. My mind moved towards the off position, my hands sliding down her legs, I could feel the blood thumping past my ears, barely picking up her words. "What do you want?" It was said in the same tone as her no, shaking me and my mind back to 'on.'

I fumbled around a bit, trying to come up with something other than the mono-syllabic, though true, response of 'you.'  I went with "I think I've made that pretty clear? I want to see if you and I are…" compatible, no, umm, right? No. Meant for each other, how melodramatic can I be? NO. "More." I hope if someone was writing a story about this they would put a period after that word, and not the question mark it felt like.

Her hands guided mine higher on her body, up her firm thighs, hips and flat, taunt stomach, sliding my large hands over her chest, strands of her red hair falling out of her pony tail, and over her face. "Are we?" She asked, while working me like a master.  My vision had just clouded over, lust bubbling up and over, I tried to say something, anything, my mouth worked, then, later actual words came out.

"If this is come kind of new torture technique please only ever use it on me." I panted those words out like a first timer. At this time I would tell this woman the truth of anything she asked. "I mean, if we weren't, would we be here?" I threw out the words, desperate.

My hands spanned her chest, teasing her back, trying to force her mind down to his primal level.  It failed, she sighed softly, talking as she turned away, her hips still firmly on mine, warm body pressed up against me. "This means nothing. Sex is just sex. I want to do that with you, but also…" her voice broke a bit, moisture forming in her lidded eyes.

"Once we start down one path, we can't ever go to the other." Slid my hand around the back of her head, turning her back to face me, the back of her head was still slightly wet, red hair tangling in my fingers.  I told the truth, "I think we both know, and want, this to be more than sex, or we would have had at it days ago and not looked back. Instead I find myself brooding in here, breaking my only glass because I just assumed you'd show up." For me, I left out. "Tripping over myself like a moron I may add."

She turned like a cat in my lap, looking down at me, directly into me. "Can you love me?" There it was, I had left off the jealous part of me stalking back into The Last Gate trying to find out if she had left with Morgane that night and not me. I wasn't sure. When ever are you? Shut up, I dove in.

"Only if you'll let me." I stopped looking at her eyes, expecting the worst.  By the time I looked back up her eyes were closed.  She mouthed something, maybe 'thank you.'  She leaned back down to me, her lips finding mine, this kiss slamming my brain fully into the 'off' position, and everything else to on. I hardly let her pull back enough to tug her shirt off. Mine didn't last much longer. nor in one piece.

Let me say; the counter, it was the right height.


Usagi's Blog

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Bittersweet Date

The door slid closed behind me, rustling slightly against the metal around it, otherwise, quiet. Sadly so. I took a few steps into the room before grabbing the nearest thing that could break. The blossom of glass against the steel wall made me smile until I realized I had just destroyed the only glass in the room. Not sure if I was mad because there was nothing else to break, or because I had nothing else to pour my whiskey into.

Ah well, the whiskey bottle fit in my hand well enough, the cap didn't explode nearly as nicely as the glass had. I contemplated shooting it as the liquid slid over my tongue, taking some of the sting off the day, but not all. I sunk into a chair, glumly staring out at my hangar bay.

The past few weeks I had been spending more and then more time around Usagi. At first, admittedly, it had just been nice to have someone to talk to. Though usually our conversations started and ended in abrupt, strange ways. I didn't mind, after all, while the company was nice, the scenery was better.

We had made plans to celebrate VETO arriving in TXW, well once alliance command allowed us to. One of their few restrictions had been to gag us on their arrival until they had all made it. I had cornered Usagi into coming down to The Last Gate with me, but we had both missed out on Saturday night.

By the time Tuesday rolled around I had recouped enough courage to ask again. I met her, walking up to her quarters as she was leaving. My eyes move over her body as she walked towards me, a purposeful gleam in her eyes, alongside a small lack of focus.

We walked in silence until we arrived at TLG, I was just trying to stay confident and not stumble in front of her, or worse, into her, at this point.

I headed to the bar for some more liquid courage, with Usagi just behind me. I took a whiskey, but Usagi, already several ahead of me, it seemed, took something stronger. I turned to see Raxip approaching from further down the bar, his usual pint in hand. I felt, more than saw, Usagi slide into a seat next to me, downing yet another shot. Raxip and I made some small talk that I honestly can't remember clearly, I was busy trying to watch Usagi as she bent over the bar for each of her shots. Something about fleeting with me more often, it had been a while since we last flew together.

Raxip took the initiative to introduce himself to Usagi, while she took the chance to take a verbal jab at me, in reference to fleeting with me. "I dunno. He hides a lot. I've been looking for him for weeks."

I stopped a bit short of choking on my whiskey, throwing out the first thing that came to mind as she shook Raxip's hand. "Only been hiding from you, perhaps you've been spending too much time in your quarters again." I threw back at her, only semi-defensively.

I couldn't tell if her flirtatious grin was aimed at me or Raxip, my eyes narrowing as pessimism took hold. Chuckling in spite of myself with her reply; "That is where all the fun is, you know."

I took the chance to trace her body slowly with my eyes, drawing out my reply. "Then why haven't you granted me access yet?" A strange look passed over her face at that second, one I wish I could have examined in closer detail, in private. Raxip took this chance to throw in some question about Rote that drug my eyes off Usagi, though not for long.

I took Usagi's own advice and went back to work on her, tugging her to my side, so I could lean over and smell one of the shots she was taking, not to mention tonguing. The smell from the empty shot was enough to clear my sinuses, and my head for a few seconds.

"So, you two…? Or still trying Logan?" Raxip queried, 'innocently.' I glanced over at him, trying to determine the path of his question, finding it harmless, I quipped back, "she acts all flirty here, but I'm still trying, sadly." The sadly part came out a bit louder than I had meant it to, as I thought it was more a note to myself then for public consumption. Her glass, semi full again passed under my nose, again, clearing it. "Good lord…"

Raxip waved over at a newcomer, someone I could not quite see, but made Usagi give a rather loud, to my ears at least, near drooling. "Oh wow." I thought if it caught her attention it would be worth a look and glanced over catching a quick glance that was worth an unspoken wow.

Usagi turned towards me then, chiding that she came here with me for a reason. I was starting to not be so sure, but the soft touch of her lips on my forehead, somehow deftly avoiding the implanted spikes placed there sent a lascivious shiver down my spine, and tightened my hand on her side briefly.

I tried to recover quickly, "my lips are a little lower hun." My hand releasing her side and reaching down to smack her ass playfully, and I admit, possessively. My hand stayed there for the rest of the night, mostly motionless, mostly. I was overtly pleased with my 'tactful' introduction of my hand on her ass.

Usagi was clearly taken by the newcomer, who introduced herself as Morgane Lysander. Usagi was barely holding back her drool, I had to admit that Morgane was quite attractive. I pulled Usagi into my lap, reminding her that I was here with her. She seemed more than willing, sliding down into his lap. It felt… comfortable, and I left my hand on her rear.

I spent the next few minutes trading verbal barbs with Usagi, attempting to keep her interested in me, and not wholly focused on Morgane, while talking to Raxip as well as Morgane. I couldn't tell if Raxip was trying to divert my attention or gain Usagi's, but Usagi was of no help. One second readjusting herself provocatively on my lap, making the hair on the back of my neck stand straight, then seconds later, going so far as to flash Raxip a few seductive smiles. Smiles that should have been meant for me.

Raxip decided to turn his attention towards trying to distract me from Usagi, amidst a conversation about Raxip's dancing prowess he sprung the invitation to dance before their next joint fleet we both made it to. It would have to be a date! Besides, that fleet would have to be lucky with that kind of ceremony before hand.

An annoying beep sounded deep inside my ear, requiring my attention, I could stay no longer. While the beeping grew slowly in intensity, and irritation. Still I waited, taking the time to enjoy the feel of Usagi placed in my lap. When I could wait no longer, I carefully lifted her from my lap, standing behind her for a moment. Holding in the conversation for just a moment longer, hinting to Usagi she would be welcome to intrude into my quarters, trying to make it as obvious as I could.

I leaned down, kissing her on the neck, my mouth open a little bit, tongue flicking out to take a small taste of her skin before giving her a playful bite on the side of her neck. Her hand slid down my arm as I stepped away, giving the brief impression that she wished I wasn't leaving. It was little more than brief as she gave a curt, polite wave goodbye, refocusing on Morgane.

I stepped between the two, shaking Morgane's hand before moving towards Raxip, scooping him up in my arms for a tight hug, getting him back for a similar act weeks ago, pulling back with a grin, just in time for him to plant one on me, clearly winning the exchange.

I could do nothing but laugh, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, taking one last look back at Usagi, then over to Morgane, then back to Usagi, wondering if by leaving I had just lost a chance, to be dropped off at the hands of Morgane. As I walked out, I hoped not.

Several hours had passed since then, my matters resolved, door closed, alone. I twisted in my seat, the whiskey bottle mostly gone now, drank in silence, I headed for my computer, quickly pulling up the allowed access list, removing the second ID, character by character. I turned for the bedroom, but didn't make it, tripping over my own, uncooperative feet, landing squarely on my face. I snorted once, maybe I am a lightweight, then closed my eyes.

---------((OOC bar is OOC))--------

The Last Gate - Usagi's take.

It's interesting how two people can do the same thing, see the same thing but still see it completely differently.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Art of the Defeating the Slingshot (The Art of Part 4)

Your target, hapless at 21 KM's from you as your DPS of choice pounds him down.  There seems to be no escape for this poor, fat, slow ship.  It turns away, burning to escape, MWD active, pulling range quickly as his speed shoots up to MWD levels, passing 23KM you act quickly, turning towards your running target, thinking there's no way you'll let this kill get away!

5 minutes and a loss later you realize you have just been the victim of the slingshot, pulled into range and killed by your "easy" kill.  Shame burns your ears as your pod warps away.

How could this have been avoided?

Avoiding the Slingshot, while maintaining tackle and getting that kill, is more difficult than it sounds. For those who have read my previous post about the Slingshot, you might have already come up with a few good idea's.

Basically the idea is to stay outside of overheated web/Scram range, even at the cost of losing your point and the target getting away.  Of course that is less than ideal, so we'll try to avoid that.

The first of course is knowledge of what your opponents ship is capable of.  Know, roughly, what it's top speed should be, and plan accordingly.  For instance when he starts burning away, know how much speed you need to catch up to him and don't fly after him at full speed, instead match his speed to maintain your range, so when he tries to turn back into your path you can easily avoid it and just use that chance to pump more rounds into their ship as they pass 0 transversal.

One automated tactic is to use the "keep at range" button. When he starts burning fast away from you, use your MWD and keep at 18-26km.  This should automate keeping you at range outside his scram and web range.

Knowing overheated ranges of various scrams and webs is also a good idea.  Rapiers/Huginn and Arazu/Lach non-withstanding, here are some of those ranges broken down.

Type                              Range                  Overheated               With gang boost Loki(and overheated)
Warp Scrambler I          7.5km                   9km                          10.7km               (12.5km)
Faint Epsilon                 9km                      10.8km                     12.8km               (15km)
Warp Scrambler II         9km                      10.8km                     12.8km               (15km)
TS/Domination scram    11.5km                 13.5km                     16km                  (18.8km)
Stasis Web I-II               10km                    13km                         14.2km              (17.9km)
TS/Domination web      15km                    19.5km                      21.3km              (26.9km)

If you really want to be depressed, look at similar numbers for ships like the Bhaalgorn, with a Loki.  How about you just avoid those, without backup, okay?

Usually under a web, you can still get away or at least try to get into warp before the scramble lands, but to be safe, 18-26km distance is usually good, or close to your max point range while he tries to snag you with this move.  Though this is inside of heavy neut range, to be safe from neuts you should fit a faction point and stay outside of 28/29km of every battleship we suspect have faction neuts, or 24km for best named heavy neuts.  Anyways, fat chance of staying clear of those every time.

Always have range and speed on your overview, but keep your eye especially on range, both to stay inside point range, and outside their scram/web range.

Manual piloting really helps here, instead of using "keep at", instead point your ship at a point that will only pass at the nearest 18km from the ship you are closing on, and update your heading as they spin towards you, manually keeping your distance from them. Of course this takes just a little practice to be able to eyeball or use the tactical overlay a good approach angle, but it is much more reliable in keeping you out of trouble than any other method.

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