This is the diary & short stories of Shalee Lianne Cerra, in the fictitious universe, New Eden, in the game of Eve Online. Come be a part of her world...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Last Light: Part Three

They sat at a small table near the windows in a planetside restaurant in Egghelende.   Rain gushed outside, drenching the sidewalk, pooling in the streets.  She watched as a couple dashed across the street and slid into a hovercar, splattering water as it eased into the traffic.

After the waiter left their table, she turned her gaze to Scatha.  "So now are you going to explain what's going on?"

He nodded as he leaned back in his chair.  "If you think you are ready to hear the truth, sure."

"Stop being so mysterious, I'm stronger than I look," she said.

"I have no doubt about that, but goddamn Shalee, this is a total mindfuck, I'm not sure you want to know."

"It can't be anymore of a mindfuck than finding out you are a guy.  An assassin, to boot," she said.

"That's nothing.  People are rarely what they seem, you should know that.  Hell, even you aren't what you seem, right Miss Cerra?"

"So you know who my family is, so what," she said defensively.

"I know that you ran away from them.  I know that your Father was a Holder and was disgraced for not releasing part of his slave force after Empress Jamyl decreed that all slaves to the 9th generation should be freed.  I know that you have ...rather, had, three half brothers. Two who are presumed dead.  I also know that your Father was very high in the ranks of the Sani Sabik culture...."

She sat there in silence, listening to the rain pelt against the window.  "All of that is in the past, I don't know what it has to do with who I am now.  I live and die for the Empire, I am a loyal and obedient citizen."  Her chin jutted up stubbornly, "I am nothing like my family.  It is why I dropped his name."

"I'm not accusing you of anything."

"Then why do I feel like I'm on trial?"

"I'm no Inquisitor.  I'm merely a friend, if you will."

"A friend of who?"

"You, of course," he said.

"Obviously not, since I only just found out who you really are.  Which brings me to the question, why are you here?"

"In a round about way, I was hired to infiltrate your corp."

"By who?"

"Someone you don't know."


"To investigate the Bleaklands.  There's been a lot of strange activity popping up, things happening that cannot be explained.  Something to do with the Bloodraiders, it was thought, so I was sent out to have a look around.  Joining militia was the perfect ruse."

"Yes but why my corp?  You could have joined any militia corp or even the 24th itself."

"Because of you, Shalee."  He lit up a cigarette.  "Surely it makes sense to start with the obvious.  You have ties to the Sani Sabik both with your family and your fiance, Tigerfish Torpedo."

"I'm no Blooder, how could you even accuse me of that..."

"Hey calm down I'm not accusing you of anything.  I had to start with the obvious leads.  I know what you are."

"Not all Sani Sabik have ties to Blood Raiders," she said.

He nodded, "I know.  But all Blood Raiders have ties to the Sani Sabik.  They are a fractured cult of the Sani Sabik.  And I think that's where they do their recruiting.  So of course I was going to start within the ranks of I.LAW.  To find out more about you and him."

"So now you know about me.  What about him?"

He exhaled a ring of smoke, "He's not what you want him to be."

Dark brows furrowed.  "What do you mean by that?"

He regarded her for a moment, "I didn't bring you here to talk about your fiance.  I brought you here to show you this."  He slid a datapad across the table.

She picked it up and slid her finger over 'play + internal audio' which meant that her implants would absorb the sound and she would hear it within her mind.  The patrons of the restaurant would be oblivious.

The video started like her glitched memory.  The battle of Kamela roared over comms.  The sky was bright with explosions.  Pieces of shredded metal littered the battlefield.  An explosion lit the vid screen and then everything was dark.  

Seconds ticked by then the darkness was pierced with a blinding light.  The pod was being pulled from the battle, absorbed into the belly of some ship.  The capsule was split open, pod fluid splashed across the floor.  Neon red lights cast an eerie glow across Sani-Sabik masked men.

Scatha struggled against his attackers.  Boots pounded against the metal grating as another kidnapper neared him.

She hit pause on the recording, feeling as if her heart were about to beat its way out of her chest.  Fear coiled in the pit of her stomach.  "How is this possible?  You shouldn't be able to have any video feed once you left the pod.  You were disconnected from it."

He nodded his head towards the datapad, "Keep watching and then I will explain."

She hit 'resume'.

The camera jerked out of focus, no doubt where Scatha was hit in the back of the head.  The screen went dark though there was still audio.  She could hear far away screaming.

Suddenly he opened his eyes and the video came into focus once more.

"Oh my god..." she gasped, choking on a sudden sob that caught in her throat.  "What the hell is this?"

The camera panned around a Blood Raider torture chamber.  There were several people suspended from the ceiling, their bodies drained, sliced open, carved with ritual symbols to the point of being unrecognizable.

It went dark again with audio; scuffling noises, people pleading, screaming.

He blinked his eyes open.  A couple of new bodies hung nearby.

She started to tremble as she realized who he was looking at.


"Oh god.." she stammered, completely caught off guard, "How is this possible..."

She watched in horror as a masked Raider impaled her arms with  metallic rods.  He taunted and teased her, then left.

From the audio she could hear her conversation with Scorpion Venom.

"Scorpion was there?"

Scatha nodded.

And then she heard his voice.  He was talking to her, commanding her to breathe...breathe to die.

Her head slumped forward and then his must have as well.

The video blurred then blinked off.

She swiped away tears as she stared blankly at the datapad.  "How is this real?  How did this happen..."

"I promised I would tell you."

"Do you even know how long these pod clone abductions have been going on?"

He shook his head, "Not really, but we don't think too long."

"And how did you even record it?"

He tapped his fingertip to the corner of his eye.  "I have my own technology, it doesn't require being wired up to the capsule.  It's always recording."

She stared at his eye, "Even so, wouldn't they have found it?  Blocked any transmissions going off ship?"

He tugged at the corner of his eye and a silver stream of liquid dripped down his cheek. It fell to the table and congeled into a solid shape.  "Nanites."  She watched as it reformed into something with wings and flew upwards above their heads.  "It's programmed to find it's way home."


It swirled around then landed at the side of his eye, changing into a silver liquid form.  He pulled back his skin and allowed it to seep in through the corner, then blinked several times.

Wincing, she looked away.  "If they perfected the perfect crime, then why send those Raiders to my apartment.   There's something about this that doesn't make sense.  Is there something else that you haven't told me?"

"Faliin Oreen, the one who took you, has a taste for you now.  He sent those thugs I'm sure.  I bet you really pissed him off when you died, he didn't have a chance to imprint you onto another clone."

She felt sick.  "What does that mean?"

"All Raiders prefer clone blood."

She nodded, having heard tales of vessels found in space with dry corpses, drained by Raiders.  The Raiders were notorious for their gruesome sadistic blood rituals, especially in the Bleaklands.

He continued, "And sometimes they will become attached to a particular taste of someone and they will do anything to keep that person alive, so that they can continuously feed off of them."

She winced again.

"You had the audacity to die before he could imprint your clone onto a new clone, so that he could keep you in the blood farms."

"And so he's going to try to capture me again?" she asked, her voice filled with dread.

He nodded, "I imagine so."

"Well that's fucked up."

Scatha flicked the tip of his cigarette against the ashtray.  "We have his name.  We can track him down.  Remember, he doesn't know we know."


Hours later the pair entered into a seedy bar somewhere deep within the Gallente Federation. The walls pulsed a dim green light to the beat of a strange mix of music.  The dancefloor was a mash of barely clothed bodies gyrating upon one another.

Shalee swept her gaze across the sea of people, "I don't think he is here."

"He's not going to be on the dancefloor," he chuckled.  "C'mon," he reached behind him and grabbed her by the hand, pulling her through the crush of people towards the back of the club.

Scorpion Venom sat with his back to the bar, a girl on each side hanging onto his massive arms.  He smirked as he pulled a cigar from his lips, "Didn't figure I'd find you in a place like this," he said to Shalee.  His shiney black eyes focused on Scatha.  "Gonna introduce me to your friend?"

"'s Scatha."

He looked to Shalee for confirmation.  She nodded.  He grinned even wider, "No shit?"

"Nope," said Scatha as he stuck his hand out to shake Scorpion's.  "Look.  We need your help."

"What can I do for you?"

"Doing what you do best.  We need to capture someone and with your considerable skills, you're our best chance at it."  Scorp was one of the better known inty pilots in the militia, if not the best.  He smirked again,  "Say when."


He looked to the girl on his left then to his right, "Now now?  Not like half an hour from now?"  He grabbed the blonde's ass, "I mean, come on.  What's so important that can't wait a little so I can get a little."

Scatha gave Shalee a look, to which she shrugged.  "Fine.  Half an hour then we roll out."

Shalee watched the trio head for the stairwell.  "So."

"So," Scatha said as he nodded his head towards the dancefloor.  "Wanna dance?"

"For half an hour?"

He cracked a grin, "He'll be back in ten."

"I'm telling him you said that."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Last Light- Part Two

Her eyes darted back and forth behind closed lids.  Her body trembled as the last memories of her previous life flashed through her mind.  She fought desperately to put all the pieces in place, to make sense of a massive information 'download' into her new clone.

She thrashed about in the clone bay hibernation unit, sloshing fluid as her fingers curled into tight fists.  She slammed them against the translucent lid of her container, beating frantically to draw someone's attention to her.

"I'm alive," the thought ran through her mind though she couldn't actually speak the words, her mouth was still melded around an artificial tube that connected to her lungs, a breathing apparatus that provided sterile, filtered air.

The dull thud of her hands smashing against the container startled Kobe Caglia, junior pod technician, assigned to Jonathan, chief pod technician- someone who had been working for Shalee since she'd become a capsuleer.

Groggily he glanced around, having fallen asleep at the station while his boss had taken a much-needed break.  The pair of them had been on duty the entire night as their employer fought her way across the Bleaklands.

Thus was the life of a pod technician.  They slept when their employer slept.  Their schedules mirrored hers so that they would be there to resurrect her should she die.

And with the Tribals putting up a relentless fight across the war zone, every Amarrian Militia capsuleer seemed to be pulling double shifts of patrols just to keep them at bay.  They barely slept, and neither did their grounded counterparts.

The Amarr were losing the war at a frightning pace.  Nerves were stretched, tempers were high, and everyone was exhausted.

Kobe hadn't meant to doze off but it had finally caught up with him.  Having been monitoring her patrol over comms, he had fallen asleep to the sound of the FC giving orders to jump and hold cloak.

He had started to dream of the fleet, of being in the midst of the battle.  He was there as the two fleets engaged, as ships exploded one by one.  He could hear the cries as thousands of crew members were blown to bits out into the unforgiving endlessness of space.  Debris surrounded the stargate, lights from it illuminated what was left of their ships.  So many pods hovered, suspended in an eerie light.

He jerked awake to the sound of 'Resurrection Imminent'.  A siren blazed, the display lit up with pale neon warning lights. 'Resurrection Imminent,' the automated warning system repeated.

"Fuck."  He dashed over to the hibernation unit and pushed the lid to the side.  He shoved one hand beneath her neck, pulling her up out of the shimmering fluids, his other hand pulled the tube from her mouth.

"Breathe," he said as he rubbed his thumb across her eyelids, wiping away the liquid that had gelled in the creases.  She blinked several times, clearing her vision, taking a few shallow breaths.

"Commodore Lianne?  You with me?" he asked in a soft voice, staring down into her confused eyes.

She nodded as he pulled her up out of the clone vat and wrapped her in a towel.  She took a few tentative steps then faltered.  He caught her, "Easy now."

"Something doesn't feel right."

"What do you mean?"

"I died," she said softly.

He nodded.  It wasn't uncommon to have confusion after awakening for the first time in a new body.  "You did."

She hesitated, "But ...something isn't right."  Memories flashed lightning fast through her mind.

"Tell me."

"I don't know."  Her brows furrowed as she tried to remember, "I can't remember."

"Maybe it will come to you later.  Here, let me help you Commodore."  He led her off to the showers so that she could get cleaned up.  After she went through a quick medical exam, she was released.

Wearing a drab medical jumpsuit, she entered into the medical station's cafeteria, in no hurry to make her way back to her captain's quarters.  She filled a tray and headed over to sit by the windows.  As soon as she took her seat, Scorpion Venom neared her table, "This chair taken?"

She nodded, as if to say sit down.  "So they got you too?"

"Yeah."  He sat down in front of her, his tray as full as hers, "Fucking bastards."

She studied his face, recognizing him after a moment. "Scorpion, right?"

"At your service."  He popped the lid off a bottle of water and took a long drink from it.

"This is the first time we've met?  Out of pod, I mean," she asked.  She leaned back in her chair and twisted her damp hair into a bun.

"Yeah, I think so."  He gave her a glance in between bites.  "Do you..." he seemed to hesitate.

"Do I remember how we died?" she prompted.

He nodded.  "Yeah.  One minute we were fighting and the next..."

She finished his sentence, "Everything was dark.  The pod wouldn't warp, it should have still been online.  But it wasn't, it was just dark and cold and no one could hear.  I could see outside, I could see there were others just sitting there..."  she whispered, remembering the last few moments of her last death.

His dark eyes bore down on here, lost in the memory, "And then suddenly there was so much light.  Like a blinding light and I couldn't get my pod out.  It should have responded, but it didn't. The light was from outside...and then it felt like it was being pulled by tractor beams?"

She nodded again, "Yes!  It makes no sense, right?  It couldn't have happened like's can't lock onto pods with tractor beams and that light..."  Her voice dropped to a mere whisper, "And then we were pulled into a loading bay and broken out of our pods, and that's when we died.  After the pods were split open manually."

"Right."  The stared at each other for a long moment.

"Well fuck."

She glanced down at her food tray, "Maybe it was just some...glitch... in the download."  She knew that it was very unlikely that they both experienced the same exact 'glitch' but there was no other way to explain it.

"Yeah.  A glitch," he said unconvincingly.

They both fell silent.

A stream of pale green lights glowed along the top of the dark corridor, simulating night in the 'second station' of Egghelende, a Gallente station that the Imperial Outlaws had claimed as their home for the last couple of months.  "Deck forty-seven," the automated voice announced as the doors slid open.

She exited the elevator and turned right, making her way towards her rented apartment.  One side of the corridor was transparent, giving a panoramic view of space, the other side was lined with doors that lead to I.LAW and TMFED captain's quarters.

Her thoughts lingered on the night's battles.  The Amarrian Militia had dominated the field hour after hour.  The Minmatar melted beneath their lasers, their missiles, their heavy artillery fire. The fleet had begun small, commanded by Almity and by the end of the night they had killed over four billion ISK worth of ships.

'Not a bad night at all', she thought as she neared her door, still high off the thrill of combat.  The apartment door next to hers, recently vacated by Jones Bones who had left corp to return to the Heretics, slid open.  A tallish man with blonde hair and startling blue eyes stepped out.

She gave pause, looking at him with curiosity.  "I thought those quarters were empty..." she said skeptically.

"Not anymore."

Shalee frowned, "They have been retained for the Imperial Outlaws, there must be a mistake."

"But I am an Imperial Outlaw," he smirked.

She mentally ran through a list of new recruits, they had been flooded with them over the last week or so, but he didn't match any of them.  "No you're not."

He nodded his head towards the corridor, "Take a walk with me?" He gave her a rather charming smile.

"Uh, no?"  Was he hitting on her?  She tilted her head, staring him down.  The nerve of some people, she thought irritability.  "Tell me what you are doing here."

He smirked again, "C'mon.  Take a walk and I will explain.  I promised you I would."

Her brow arched, "What?  You're making no sense.  I'm not going on a walk with you okay?  I don't even know you.  Tomorrow I will contact the station manager and get this sorted but right now I'm just going to go to bed, so if you will please excuse me."  She laid her hand against the palm scanner by her door.

"C'mon.  Take a walk.  What's it going to hurt?"  He continued to smile at her but something in his eyes pleaded with her.  "Please?"

She shook her head, growing alarmed at his insistence. "No, I'm tired and I  just..." her hand wrapped around the hilt of her sidearm as he closed the distance between them.

He was inches from her when he whispered, "Do not open that door."

Fear slithered through her, "Get away from me!"  She shoved him as she pulled the sidearm from its holster, her other hand taping in the security code.  The door slid open.

"Goddamnit you're hardheaded," he said as he followed her in, shoving her out of the way as he pulled his own sidearm, shooting it at point-blank range, downing one of the would-be assailants.  The other came at him, attempting to knock the sidearm from his grasp.

He grabbed the man by the wrist and jerked him forward, twisting his arm so that it bent, in which he used the leverage to turn the man around and force him down onto his knees.  "This is the best the Covenant can send?"  He placed the barrel of his sidearm against the man's temple and pulled the trigger.  The second assailant fell forward, dead.

Shalee stared at the two dead men then looked in horror at the one left standing.

"I told you not to open that door, next time could you listen?" He disappeared through her bedroom door and returned a minute later, carrying a handful of sheets.  He started to wrap the bodies up while all she could do was stand there, trembling.

When he was nearly done, she finally seemed to get ahold of herself, "Wha-what just happened?"  she stuttered out the question.

He stood at the sink, washing his bloodied hands, "I just saved your stubborn-assed life is 'what just happened'.  I said walk goddammit, why couldn't you just take a walk?" he sounded as if he were annoyed with her.

"I don't even know you!  I'm not going to take a walk with someone I don't even know!"

"You do know me.  Sort of.  I'm Melisandre.  Also, Scatha and a couple of other identities."

She stared at him blankly, as if still in shock.  "What?"

"Look, we don't have time for all the details right now.  What we are going to do is drag these two over to my apartment and lock it up then go for that walk that you should have taken.  We need to hurry because there are a few more raiders who will be checking up on these two any minute.  Got it?"

She gave a curt nod and helped him drag the bodies next door.  Once they were in the corridors, he shook his head, 'Not that way, this way."  He led her down to a service elevator and once they were inside, he seemed to relax.  "She listens for once."

"So are you going to tell me how you're not a girl?" she asked, watching the deck numbers flicker as the elevator descended.

He shook his head, his lips curled into a slight smile.  "Really?  That's your first question after everything that just happened?"

"It seems relevant."

"They are just a couple of identities, it keeps the DED off my back."

She gave him a look of disbelief.  It wasn't a simple act to just create a whole new identity for yourself, not with the DED involved- a police force and paramilitary of Concord.  They kept tight records on who was a capsuleer.  A pod-pilot simply didn't just buy a new identity, it was nearly impossible, or so she thought.

He noted her look.  "Anything can be bought for a price, haven't you learned that by now.  You can't be that naive."

She rolled her eyes, "Whatever, okay.  Let's say I'm buying this.  What's your real name?"

"Steve.  You can call me Steve."

"Fine, Steve. And now that we know who you are.  I want to know what you are.  You're obviously not just some random capsuleer.  You fought like ...some sort of assassin."


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Last Light, Part One

Consciousness came slowly, a trickling of awareness that broke through the black smothering fog within her mind. A sliver of red light caught her attention and desperately she clung to it, focused on it as she forced herself to mentally fight her way out of the dark.

With awareness came pain, so much goddamned pain that it was tempting to let herself fall back into the sea of darkness once more, to pass out and eventually die.


Sheer determination kept her eyes half parted.

Seconds turned into minutes as she hung there, forcing herself to stay focused on nothing but the red pulsing light, forcing her terror down into something more manageable. Her pounding heart slowed as she fought her way through the panic, the terror.

Breathe, just breathe.

She gathered her courage and forced her eyes open all the way, darting them from side to side. The room was long, cold, and filled with several bodies suspended from the ceiling like her, their wrists bound together above their heads, ankles shackled to the floor. All were clothed in the remnants of their pod suits, a thin material that capsuleers wore while piloting spacecraft. Most of them were unconscious, drugged so that they would offer no resistance when it was time to bleed them.
Her stomach lurched at the thought. Bleeding. She was about to be hooked up to some ungodly device and slowly drained of her blood until nothing remained but a dry corpse. She would die a slow agonizing death aboard this Blood Raider vessel, her blood a sacrifice to the disgusting 'religious' zealots who raided the Bleaklands, ghoulish twisted individuals who wore white animalistic masks and long robes. They preyed upon starships in search of the prized 'red', blood of the cloned.

She whimpered as she heard steps across the metal grating floor. They were coming. One stopped in front of her. He wore the white mask of the Raiders, tho parts of him were visible beyond it. His glossy dark eyes, thin lips. He was taller than her. His white robes were already stained with blood. She looked at the floor.

"Commodore Lianne, a pleasure to have you here." His tone was practically jovial.

"Fuck you."

"Are you really in a position to take such an attitude?" he laughed as he grabbed her by the chin, squeezing her face. "Look at me when I talk to you."

She lifted her blue gaze to his masked face and spit. She never was one to follow the rules and what did it matter now? She knew she was hours away from death regardless of her behavior.

"Fiesty. I bet your blood is spicy," he said as his split-tongue darted between the mouth-hole of his mask and licked at her cheek. "Maybe I'll have a little taste now hmmm?" He pricked her chin then suckled the droplets of blood away.

She struggled to no avail. With her wrists bound above her head and her ankles cuffed to the floor below, there was little she could do. "What's your name?" she whispered.

"Faliin Oreen," he replied as he pulled back, his dark eyes glistened beneath the mask, "Why do you want to know?" He sounded a bit startled, as if no one had ever asked him before. His masked head tilted, his eerie gaze bore down on her.

"Because I want to know who I'm coming for, Faliin Oreen. I want to know the name of the man I'm going to kill."

His body shook with laughter. "You're not going to remember this. You're a capusleer. Your last memory will be from the time you were taken from your pod. You wont remember how you were captured or how you died."

"How did you do it anyhow? How did you manage to abduct this many capsuleers at once?"

He smiled beneath the mask showing off blood-stained teeth. "You really want to know?" he asked, considering telling her. And why not?, he thought. She was marked for death and even as she awakes in a new clone tucked far away in Empire space, she wouldn't have these memories.

None of them would.

"Tell me."

"A couple of hours ago, we were there, cloaked, watching, knowing that one of your numerous battles were about to go down. You militia 'soldiers' are so predictable. And so we waited until the thick of the battle was over and as you lost your ships one by one, we simply stole your pods right out of the sky."

"Impossible. There is no way you could have taken this many capsuleers alive." Sure, they could have collected corpses after the battle but how did they manage to collect intact pods? How did so many not warp out?

"Jovian mechanics. A nice little mod that deploys a pulse of neutralizing energy within a 20KM radius. It shut down your pod's ability to warp- all of your pods." He swept his hand around motioning to the others. "It shuts everything down completely, matter of fact, so that you couldn't even send a distress signal. It was like you exploded but left behind no corpse. Whoever comes looking for your wrecks will assume you all died in the explosions. And somewhere in New Eden, another version of you is waking up in a clone vat, the last memory she will have is dying in a battle in the Bleaklands."

"You bastard."

"Your anger makes it that much more delicious." He pierced her skin with a metallic rod, "Scream for me. I want your blood to boil." Blood oozed around the open wound as he injected it deeper, thrusting it harshly beneath her skin. His serpent tongue wiggled around the rod, licking away any blood that escaped.

She bit down on her lip so hard it bled, but she would not give him the satisfaction of screaming.

Pain radiated in hot, nauseating waves. She felt sick. The contents of her stomach spewed across his blood-splattered robes. "Fucking bitch." He backhanded her, stinging her face though the pain was brief compared to the draining device protruding into her arm. He shoved the rod ruthlessly and she could see it bubble beneath her skin.

"You'll scream before it's over," he promised as he added a second device to her other arm. "I'll be back for you." They retreated, leaving her alone in the room with the other half-dead corpses. She could hear the doors sealing air tight, followed by the sounds of overhead vents pulling back, allowing the air to be perfumed by some sort of toxin, she presumed. She tried to hold her breath but knew it was pointless.

Tears rolled silently down her cheeks, her head dropped to the side, pressed against her upheld arm. She could feel her life fading away and she tried to fight it. "I don't want to die I don't want to die," she whispered to herself over and over. "I don't want to die like this," she said mindlessly.

"What the fuck..." someone screamed as his eyes shot open, his face twisted with terror. He jerked at the chains above his head, "What's going on, what's happening?"

Shalee rolled her head slightly to see who was screaming. "You're dead."

"The hell I am! Where the fuck are we?!" he demanded.




"How the fuck did that happen? I was just fighting and then suddenly I couldn't warp out..." his voice quieted as he noticed the tubes wrapped around his arms, his blood dripping slowly out into a container beside him.

"Like I said, we are already dead."

He peered at her through the semi-darkness as he coughed, "Shalee?"

"Yeah. Scorp?" she whispered, feeling light-headed. She recognized Scorpion Venom though she'd never seen him out of pod. He was a new inty pilot in the Amarr militia. She'd been in countless fleets with him by this point and knew that if anyone should have gotten off field, it should have been. Fucking Bloodraiders. Godamned Jovians.

"Yeah. Where are...I mean. How? How did we even get here?"

"They came in as we exploded and had some goddamned Jovian device to suspend our pods, we couldn't warp out. The pods must have sent a signal back to the meds saying we are dead- I think we are already resurrected and no one even knows we are here."

"Fuck. So we are going to die right?" He jerked at the chains again.




"What are they going to do with us?"

"Bleed us. They will drain every drop of blood from our bodies until we are completely dry." She sniffled as a few more tears streaked her cheeks. "It's all they care about. Clone blood."

He nudged his head at the tubes inserted into his arms, trying to push them out. He tensed, the movement causing blood to pour out beyond the tube, streaking his arm with dark red liquid.

"Might as well stop that, you're just going to make them come back," she whispered. "The worst part is over, all we have to do now is die."

Emotions flooded his face as his dark eyes filled with unshed tears. "So this is how we die?"

"We die all the time, don't we?"

"Yeah but not like this, not like some goddamned cocktail ingredient," he said weakly.

"It wont be long now," she whispered as her eyes closed, her lashes fluttering against her cheeks as she tried to fight to keep them open, to stay alert. "Talk to me, tell me something. Keep talking." she pleaded. "I don't want to die alone."

She sniffled, waiting for him to speak, to say anything. "Scorp?" It took every bit of her strength to glance in his direction, "Please..." But he was already dead.
"You're not alone." Another voice said nearby, one that she did not recognize. She forced herself to turn in the chains, her body swung to face him. He was tall, dark blonde hair, and had the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. They almost glowed. She stared blankly at him.

"I don't know you."

"You do."

She blinked several times, fighting back the inevitable, "I don't," she protested. "What's your name?"

"I'll tell you when we are out of this place."

"How? You wont remember this. We wont remember any of will be like it never happened." Through the vents they could hear the sounds of several people screaming at once.

"I'll remember, okay? I'll remember and I will tell you."

More screams added to the hellish sounds, "Oh god, they are torturing them." She closed her eyes for a brief moment, "God let me die before they come back."

"Look at me."

She blinked her eyes open and stared at him, "The worst is over," He said. "Take deep breaths, deep as you can. It will pull in more of the poison into your system. Breathe with me." He gulped in as much air as he could. "Do it!" he said as he exhaled.

Barely nodding, she whispered, "Okay." She forced the strange, fragrant air into her lungs.

"Breathe," he said again, once more swallowing as much air as he could, "Breathe." She focused on nothing but the sound of his voice, breathing deeply upon his commands.

The air seemed to get lighter, the sounds of the screaming faded, or maybe she just couldn't hear it anymore. The red light seemed to grow, filling her vision. Everything was a blur.

She forced herself to look at him one final time. His eyes were bright, as if lit by something within. An eye piece? No. She must be hallucinating, she thought. Something was wrong with his eyes, they weren't human, and something silver, the color of bright metal, was dripping down his cheeks from the corners of his eyes. It crawled down his face and fell to the floor, reshaping into a pool of silver before dripping through the grated floor.

She couldn't muster the strength to ask him about it. She inhaled her final breath and exhaled, dying to the sound of his last command, "Just let go..."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Entry 149: The Horrible Things We Have Done

"What do you dream of?"

She stared at the ceiling, watching the blades of an overhead fan bleed together as the cool air fluttered wispy strands of hair about her face.  She brushed them away as she spoke, "Sometimes I dream of being a child, of when my Mother was alive.  And sometimes I dream of flying, of battles that I've been in."

"I believe it is your memories trying to sort themselves while you sleep."

"Probably...but sometimes it's still hard to figure out what's real and what's not."

"Tell me what's real about the last five months."

"What do you want to know?"

"Tell me about your corporation."

"We were deployed to Otosella for a while and then called back to the war zone.  We currently reside in Egghelende but were stationed in Arzad for a brief time."

"And the people you work with?  Tell me about them."

She furrowed her brows as she considered his question.  "There's a lot of them.  I guess I'll start with Eran. He is still a part of the corporation though for a while he wasn't.  They even said he was dead but we had a copy of his clone that no one knew about.  A precaution after what happened with me.  So we were able to bring him back without knowing who or what was responsible for it.  But he's different now."

"Different how?"

"Withdrawn.  It's as if he doesn't know what to say to me any longer.  We fly together but I never see him otherwise."

He nodded, "And the others?"

"There's Ryven.  He just got married to Leela- it was out of the blue.  At least to me.  But he seems happy, that's all that matters.  And I do like her.  Phione, well, he's sort of a guardian angel to us all.  I don't spend much time planet side with him but I trust him ."

She hesitated before continuing, "Almity..." She chewed the inside of her cheek, hesitating again.  She darted her blue gaze to the doctor.  "I feel like I'm betraying her trust by speaking of this."

"Anything you say here is confidential, you know that.  All I'm trying to do is help you, Commodore Lianne."

She nodded, "Almity is loyal to the Empire, I do not doubt that at all.  She's just...she has her own way of showing her loyalty.  Some do it on the battlefield, and some step outside the realms of militia and space combat. I know that she's killed Minmatar out of pod. Contract work.  It's as if she's some sort of thrill if she enjoys it."

The doctor nodded, "That's not so uncommon for a capsuleer."

"I know.  She confided to me about her 'sidework' and then offered to introduce me to the one who provides her the contracts."

"Did you meet with him?"

"Yes.  I had to.  I had to know exactly what Almity was up to, who she associated far she would go."

"What has she done?"


"Not so uncommon for a capusleer..." he repeated.

"Killing in space is vastly different than killing with your own two hands."

"How so?"

"I don't know, it just seems so...personnel."

"Did you take a contract?"


"What happened?"

"I met a man who supplied the Minmatar.  Being a merchant wasn't reason enough alone to kill him.  I investigated him a bit...he was a bad man...and well, he deserved to die."

"Have there been other contracts?"


"Why not?"

"Because I prefer to use lasers and missiles not silver-tipped blades."

"Tell me more.  About the others. The more you speak of them, the more you will remember, it will reinforce those memories and override any confusion you may be having.  Tell me about the people you trust."

She shifted uncomfortably on the sofa, "Kato Aivoras.  He's fearless on the battlefield.  Wylona is too, though I didn't know either of them before the accident, I think.  Look, I don't know how this is going to help me, talking about work."

"Fine.  We will save it for later.  Let's talk about your personal life.  Are you still engaged?"

"Yes.  Very much so."

"And when will you marry him?"

"I don't know.  It's hard to have a relationship with someone who is half across New Eden most of the time. We see each other when we can but it's difficult."

"Have you asked him to join you?"

"I cannot ask that of him.  He has his own life, his own responsibilities to his corporation."

"Then join him."

"I will not leave the Empire, he knows that.  Maybe after the war.  Though...I don't know.  There are certain things that are not resolved."

"Such as?"

"There are still two months of memories unaccounted for- the two where I got involved with Tiger.  And I don't know why I did it.  I don't know if my feelings were genuine for him at the time or if I had an ulterior motive."

"Can that possibly matter now, over a year later?"

"Yes, if he was some sort of contract, if I was using him for whatever reason...if I was trying to destroy him, then he deserves to know, perhaps.  How can he love me if I wanted to hurt him?"

"If it were so, do you think he would be able to forgive you?"

"I don't know.  Perhaps. He loves me desperately but at the same time, I know what he is capable of, I know how truly dark he can evil he has been.  I am afraid of turning him back to that, to that man he once was, when he was a part of the Sani Sabik."

"He has renounced his faith, hasn't he?  Before you two got involved?"

"I believe so...but I think if we were to part he would find comfort with them again.  And surely Revan would delight in having her control over him once more."

"I believe it would be best to be as truthful with him as possible, despite the consequences.  Otherwise you're living a false life and that will not help you clear up your memory issues."

She laughed, the irony not lost on her, "I've been living a false life my whole life.  But you're right.  I should probably tell him everything.  Tell him I might have become involved with him to murder him and every one of his clones.  And while I'm at it I might as well make confessions about Zenton."

"What would you confess?"

"That I...once..." she exhaled a soft breath while rubbing her hands across her face, "That I saw Zenton...slept with him, I mean.  Before I ever knew Tiger, he can't be angry about that.  Zenton and I have a past, but no one knows what one knows that we weren't careful and I became pregnant.  Zenton didn't even know.  Once I found out, I cloned jumped...I just needed time to sort it all out in my mind.  And then he joined the Minmatar and I couldn't dare tell him."

"And what happened to the child?"

"She's safe, far away from the war zone, a place where no one can find her to use against us.  She will never know about us, her true parents, or the things we have done...the horrible things we have done to one another in the name of duty and war."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Entry 148: Remembering

Four Months Ago...

"How's she looking?"  Ethan Verone asked.

Dr Einmoch nodded approvingly as he looked over data on the holo displays, checking it off against old data from her last visit, "She appears to be perfectly healthy. She'll rouse herself in her own time."

Shalee whimpered a soft little sound as she started to awaken, her eyelids remained closed though her eyes darted back and forth.

Dr Einmoch monitored her closely, checking her vitals off while keeping his eyes on her.

Suddenly she blinked her eyes open, first looking at Dr Einmoch, then to Verone.

"Ah good, you're with us, and awake," the doctor said.  "Please keep your head down, give yourself a few minutes to gather your senses."

Verone smiled slightly to her and nodded.

She lifted a hand and rubbed it against her forehead. "Alright," she said rather softly, as if uncertain.

Verone tilted his head and watched her carefully as Dr Einmoch smiled, chuckling,  "Okay, I need to ask you a few basic questions, Shalee, alright?"

Shalee furrowed her brows at Verone as he watched her, a look of confusion flashed across her face, followed by a look of distress. She pulled her hand from her forehead, holding both hands in front of her,

"What...happened?" She searched for the scars.

Verone stood quietly and smiled to her, "It's alright, don't worry, you're safe and well. Just relax and work with the doc, okay?"

Dr Einmoch watched her carefully, "Shalee?"

She looked back to the doctor and nodded, as if to say go ahead.

"Your full name?"

"Shalee Lianne Cerra."

"Your current employer?"

"The Knight-" she hesitated. "No, that isn't right." She shook her head as if confused. "Am I crazy?" she looked to Verone, "Everything seems jumbled up....the Outlaws."

"No, you're not crazy." Verone said.

"It'll take an hour or so to slip into place," Einmoch said.  "Do you remember our coversation last night?"

"But it...feels like a dream. Like it didn't really happen..." She looked to Verone again, "Is Drem alright?"

"Drem? We'll talk about that later. How are you feeling?"


Einmoch smiled to her, "Do you remember where you were born?"


"Your birthday, and age?" he questioned.

Shalee named off her birthday and the year she was born. "Twenty two."

"Good, excellent."

"Do you remember your previous employer, his name, and the name of the corporation?"

She answered softly. "Aldrith Shutaq. Knighthood of the Merciful Crown."

"Your new corporation, and their CEO?"

"Eran. Outlaws." She shook her head, "But it doesn't really seem real." She looked to Verone again, "Is Drem okay?  Can I see him?"

"Right now it's important that you recover, you can speak to people when you're feeling one hundred percent."

"I agree with Ethan," Einmoch said.  "Try to relax. Can you lift your right hand for me?"

"But there was so much blood," she said as she lifted her right hand.

"That was a long time ago, things are much different now," Verone said.

"It feels like it just happened."

"Can you tell me the current Date, Shalee?" the doctor asked.

She opened her mouth to say the date she was cloned at the facility then paused, remembering that months had passed since. She named the current date.

Dr Einmoch nodded, "Now a little motor test. Touch the tip of each finger to your thumb on your right hand for me."

She complied, daintly tapping her fingertips against her thumbs, "Like this?"

"And now the other hand, please."

Shalee touched each fingertip to the opposite thumb. "Is this necessary? I feel fine." She moved to sit up in the bed.

"Motor tests are part of the process yes. How do you feel, sat up? Any diziness?" he asked.

"Fine.  I feel fine." She blinked several times as everything started to swirl. "Yes."

He gently rested his palm on her forehead, adjusting various dials on her monitoring equipment,  "Stay layed down for now."

She laid back against the pillow as instructed. "He died, didn't he." She rolls her head to the side, looking at Verone. "That's what you're not telling me."

"Yeah, he did, but not from what happened with you." Verone said.

"Try to relax, Shalee," Einmoch said softly.

She nodded, trying to relax. "He was sweet." She looked upset suddenly. "He used to..." She gasped as a thought occured to her. "Did you kill him?"

"No, I didn't.  He was a good friend." Verone said, shaking his head.

"You know what he did?" she asked, her expression worried.

Dr Einmoch interrupted them, "This isn't the time for these types of discussion, focus on remembering more distant things."

Verone looked at her, "I know everything, yes. He told me everything."

Shalee shook her head as if everything is still jumbled up, "Everything is strange." She stared up at the ceiling. "I thought it was you."

"You thought what was me?" Verone asked.

"Him. When he came around as Niques."

"No, that wasn't me.  But I do know what happened."

She fell silent, saying nothing.

"Tell me what else you remember?"

"Everything, I think."

Verone nodded and smiled, "Good. That's what you wanted, wasn't it?"

She nodded very slightly. "But things aren't's a bit...jumbled."

"In the space of a few hours, it will reorder itself.  You should rest. I'd like you to stay here for 24 hours."

She nodded again, "Alright." She searched her memories as they flashed through her mind as if she were watching a holovid on fastforward.

Dr Einmoch nodded to her and smiled, ushering the two cloning techs out, then giving a final check over of her equipment, "You'll find all the entertainment you need for twenty-four hours in the holo-projector. I'll be back to check on you periodically, if you need anything, the staff here will be here non-stop."

"Alright. Thank you."

The doctor nodded to her then departed, leaving her with Ethan.

Verone nodded to Toma as he left and then pulled up a stool to sit beside her bed, watching her quietly.

"You wanted me to remember that it was you who helped me," she said.

"No.  I just didn't trust anyone other than Toma to do it.  If you hate me, then that's your choice. I can't change it."

"I don't hate you."

"Then that's your are you feeling now?"

"Just a little...unnerved, or something."

"Why's that?"

She shook her head, "I don't know."

"I'm sure you'll feel better after some sleep."

"Yeah, I guess. Hopefully."

He smiled to her as he stood, "Anything I can get you?"

"No I guess I'll be alright. You don't have to stay. I know you're busy."

"I'm fine, I have the night off."

"So you're going to nurse me back to health huh?"

He smirked, "Yeah, that's the Shalee I remember."

She laughed a soft little sound. "Can I have some water?" She attemped to sit up again, too fidgety to be laying around.

Verone nodded and headed to the side of the room, filling her a large lidded pitcher with ice cool water and a glass too. As he went to stand, he battered his head on the overhead cabinets, ducking and smirking before heading over to her. He offered her the glass, then rested the pitcher down beside her bed.

She giggled. "Did you forget how tall you are?"

"It happens."

Verone smirked and headed back over to the cabinets, dabbing at the back of his head with some gauze.  It stains with crimson as he walks back to her, "I've got probably more of a headache than you, now."

She frowned, "You're bleeding." She attempted to slide her legs over the bedside. Her feet touched the cool floor. "Let me help you."

"It's fine, lie down.  It happens all the damn time,"  He gently slipped his hand under her legs and lifted them back onto the bed, "Rest. You shouldn't be wandering about yet.  Doc's orders, not mine."

"But I don't want to stay in bed all night I feel like I've had tons of sleep."

"Your medication will kick in in an hour or so, and knock you out until morning, so that the memories can have a good chance to take."

She pouted, "So I just have to lay here bored?" With a sigh she stretched a hand out for the water he brought her.

"Yup, and get your head together."

"Boring." She scrunched up her brows as memories melded, playing in the back of her mind. Her face lit up, "I can fly a falcon now.  I just remembered."

Verone chuckled.

"I thought Miko would have been here."

"He was going to be. He got shot this afternoon, while on contract.  He's alright, recouping in the medical wing."

"It's dangerous to be around you."

"He wasn't on contract for me, but we take care of his medical needs.  He has the same problem as me, with his size. Toma is well versed in dealing with it."


"He wanted to be here.  Did you want him here?"

She shook her head no, "I guess not."

"Then why ask about him?"

"I don't know. Because you're not talking much.  And I have this nervous habit of rambling, I guess."

"I figured... I'd maybe have more to say, But i'm lost for words.  Why are you nervous?"

"Because it's you."

"Why do I make you nervous?"

Memories jumbled one on top of the other. A myriad of scenes flashed through her mind but not in order,  "I don't know. You just do."

"If I wanted to hurt you, I'd have done it before now. And I'd have left you a confused muddle, with no memories," he said.

"I know."

"Then relax.  And if you wanna talk to Miko, I'll send him up in the morning sometime."

"No it's fine, I'm sure Ill run into him sometime or other."

He shrugged and smiled at her, "You got about thirty minutes before you get knocked out for the night... I suggest you rest up, and I'll come see you tomorrow, okay?"


He smiled a little,  "If you remember anything, write it down in the holo interface and mail it to me, and we'll talk tomorrow and square your head away, okay?"

Shalee nodded as she sat her glass onto the table beside her bed. "Alright. I'll do that...." her brows scrunched together, "Are you looking for me to remember something specific?"

Verone shook his head and smiled,  "Nah, just anything in general you have queries about or whatever.  Rest up, we'll speak tomorrow, and if you need anything, the staff are here."

She nodded.

He headed to the door and tossed the gauze from the back of his head in the trash can beside it, "Sleep well."

He gave a brief glance back at her before leaving the room.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blog Banter 33: I Heart Newbies Too

Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer Experience

Like mana from Valhalla (yes I know I'm mixing my religious metaphors), the latest Dev Blog by CCP Legion asks questions which make for perfect Blog Bantering. To quote him "...we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’" and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on "...where and why people lose interest in EVE...".

"We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems."

So let's get self-eviscerating. Banter on. 

Great topic!

Just yesterday I was chatting with a friend about EvE.  He had tried it several years ago but couldn't get into it, and naturally I had to poke and prod him to find out why.

Basically, he is your typical gamer who wants to have fun with the game shortly after purchasing it.

Not 'three months from now'.

That is the biggest problem with keeping new players interested in the game.

Gamers have a short attention span and they want instant gratification, they don't want to buy this 'great spaceship game', download it, spend hours upon hours learning the basics just to go shoot little red x's out in a mission, over and over and over.

Most new players never really understand the depth and potential of EvE and so they give up before they truly delve into everything the game has to offer.

My suggestions:

Give new players better resources.

The other day, I was doing some market on my alt who is in an NPC corp and I was watching corp chat while doing my work.  I notice a new guy who really has no idea what is going on.  Hoping that on the off chance the guy isn't a troll or spy, I convo him and ask if he wants to go out and pvp with my corp.  I get him on comms, give him our system and he flies out.  He is in a frig, we help him fit it best we can.  One of my corpies takes him over to a system that sells skill books and hooks him up.  He goes out on a roam with us and shoots at some flashy pirates.

Thats a best case scenario for new players who want to try pvp.

Unless you have someone there holding your hand when you start EVE, you really dont have a clue whats going on.  There is a lot of information out there but you really dont know where to find it when you first start.  There are some nice people out there who will help you but its hard to find find those people amongst the scammers and trolls.

There needs to be a better way to get the right information to the new players.

I love the idea of EvE University and I would have probably joined it had I known about it when I first started.  Corps like that should be advertised to new players.  In fact, it would be a good idea to have some kind of recruitment board just for new players that is policed by CCP- meaning don't let the scammers/trolls/griefers have access to our new players until they get their feet wet.  (I know we have a recruitment channel but from what I understand of it, it mostly sucks)

Aka, have a page with the top five noob friendly, trusted corps among various things you can do in EVE.  It could be something like top 5 industrial corps, top 5 wormhole corps, top 5 militia corps, etc.

This way the new player would have an idea of where they should first apply.

Give new players better skills and ships to start with.

I think a new player should start with more than one ship.  There should be at least three or four that do different things.  Lets have a mining frigate, a pve ship, a pvp ship, and maybe something e-war.

Give them very basic skills to do very basic things.

It really sucks to try to recruit friends into EVE and once they do get on the game, tell them 'okay we have your training que set up, you can come fly with me in a week!"

Thats fucked.

I think a new person should at least be able to start with a frig that can tackle without having to train up skills.  That should be a given.

Also in their hangar they should start with a few other things like a few skill books and some ammo.

Newbie Locations!

I think there should be a couple of noobie star systems on lockdown that allow only the new noobie pvp ships.  They should be able to go into these star systems and fight other noobs.

I think it would be great fun for a new player starting out to get a taste of pvp without the stress of losing your ship and having to find a way to replace it.

Allow only specific noob ships in the systems so they cannot be griefed.  Allow noob ships to respawn in the stations in the system.  Have several different types of ship (prefitted) for the player to choose from.  Let them go out and blow these ships up with abandon.

You could have people older players volunteer to lead mini fleets and give pvp advice maybe.

It could be like pvp bootcamp.

Players would get a taste of what EVE can be like, and it would excite them to go out there and try fleeting and fighting for real.

You can't just tell new players what EVE can be like for them months down the road, you need to show them as soon as possible.  You need to let them experience it right from the begining.

Find more responses here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blog Banter 32- I heart carebears

"A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons' Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships, there were calls for an "opt out of PvP" option.

Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online. Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?"


By their own rules, or lack of, EvE Online allows their members to steal from, destroy, slander, harass, and abuse other members.

It's not merely tolerated, it is celebrated.

On any given day across New Eden's five thousand plus star systems, you will find an array of pilots trolling other pilots in local channels.  You will find fresh-eyed newbies being scammed out of whatever ISK they manage to make for themselves and if they happen to venture too far out, you will find these same new players being blown up over and over and over.

You will also find some random miners being suicide ganked and high sec industrial corps getting wardecced and slaughtered.

Etc, etc.

EvE is a harsh game.  It is a brutal game.

But in the end, it is a game.  It isn't real and you weren't really there.

At best, you were some smuck sitting at your keyboard pretending to be Lord of the Skies while pressing F1.

I think too many players forget that, that it's just a game.  Games need to make money to survive, to thrive.  Games need to appeal to a wide demographic, not just a sliver of humanity- those who are psychotic, evil, and ruthless.

Because really, why does anyone need to have the ability to kill wtfpwn everyone in the game?

'But Shalee, these noobs need to HTFU!'

Er, why?  Why do they really need to be harassed?  Do you feel better about yourself?  Do you really feel accomplished when you kill a noob pilot? Really?  How does that relate to real life?  'Hey Mom, I just owned some NoobLord and told him I'd stick my dick up his ass and rape him again haha!'  Good boy.

'But Shalee, EvE is dark!  EvE is like reality!"

Uh, no.  EvE isn't reality.  Reality is reality.  EvE is still a game.  And again, games need money.  Where does the money come from?  Ah yes, those bright eyed bushy tailed noobs that everyone is harassing out of game.  Remember that 20% of CCP employees that got fired not too long ago?  Guess who could be paying their salary right now!  Guess what those fired CCP employees could be doing right now!  That's right.  Fixing our game.

Yes, I agree, EVE is a sandbox but that doesn't necessarily have to be it's selling point.  When most people decide to play EVE, I'm sure the majority came to the game to fly spaceships."

I came to EVE cause I wanted to be this:

or this:

I think it's that simple. I don't think anyone was sitting around one day thinking, 'mmm, I need an mmo that I can lie, harass, and grief newbies."

Don't get me wrong, I love pvp, and I would be utterly bored without it.  It makes the game interesting for me, but I can understand that some people simply don't have the time or desire for it.  Should they be forced into it anyhow?  I don't think so.  I don't really see the point in forcing one style of gameplay onto the entirety of EVE.

Why can't new players and industrials or whoever have their own safe zones.  They can play how they want.  And for those who want to pew pew, go to low or null.

Granted, I don't think there should be a lot of safe zones, but just enough to give new players the chance to actually experience the game and have fun with it before saying 'fuck this game' and heading off to spend their money elsewhere.

Also, I'd rather have the 'carebears' happy.  They stay in the game and give CCP money.  CCP uses that money to make my gaming better.  The carebears then tell their friends, oh come play this game!  We get more people, more money, better game- it's a cycle, see?

Just my two cents.  Flame away.

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