EVE Evolved: The great wormhole heist, part 2

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EVE Evolved: The great wormhole heist, part 2
One of the most common things I hear from people who don't play EVE Online is that they don't like the game itself but they absolutely love the stories that come out of it. There's something inherently brutal and visceral about the stories players act out every day in EVE's colossal sandbox. Tales of high-profile thefts and political intrigue occasionally creep into the media and grab our attention, but stories of that sort are a lot more common than you'd think. Last year, we told one such story of a player's descent into criminality and revenge taken too far. In last week's EVE Evolved, I began to tell the true tale of that same player in one of his biggest heists to date. If you haven't read the first part of this story yet, head back to last week's EVE Evolved before reading on.

A matter of time

Having discovered an opportunity for theft much greater than expected, Scott recognised that he would need help to pull off a successful heist. With the wormhole corporation's assets within Scott's reach, a sense of urgency began to overtake him. Based on discussions with his new corp members, he knew that the group's wormhole tenancy had just begun and that they were still in the process of clearing the starbase up following a frantic move-in. This explained the secure containers littering space -- a temporary measure to be used until an adequate hangar permission scheme could be created.

In this week's conclusion of the story of the great wormhole heist, Scott discovers allies in some unexpected places and finds out first-hand whether there really is no honour amongst thieves.

As the Xavier and Zephyr starbases featured tight security and correct permissions, it would be just a matter of time before the Yeomen First Guard cleaned up its sloppy situation and Scott's opportunity for theft evaporated. Surveillance of the starbase indicated that there would be a lull in corp activity at the start of the week, with most pilots not logging on until late in the evening. The largest regular activity gap fell between Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon, a 16-hour period typically devoid of wormhole activities and during which no directors would be online. This would be Scott's moment to strike, but with Friday rapidly coming to an end, he had only a few days in which to gather help.

Rallying the troops

In a previous life, one from which he had long since departed, Scott was a squad commander for the Caldari faction war effort in Black Rise. He built up a network of friends there, formed a corporation, and found it easy to rally large fleets of troops to action. In a bitter twist of fate, Scott now found himself alone and without allies. He reached out to players from his previous life for assistance, revealing broad details of his plan to players who until six months ago trusted him implicitly.

For the most part, Scott's requests were met with an unexpected condemnation. On hearing his plan, contact after contact blacklisted him or attempted to dissuade him from proceeding. They were all upright soldiers of the militia or advocates of traditional corporate dominion, not one among them exposing a taste for the thrill of theft or the freedom of subterfuge. To fight an enemy on an invisible front, purely for personal monetary gain, was a despicable and filthy concept to them. It's said that every player can be bought for a price, but it was evident that these players valued their reputations at a much higher price level than Scott could provide.

Familiar accomplices

In two members of his old corporation, Scott found allies willing to help with whatever he was planning. The two had been burned by Scott's nefarious schemes once before when they donned the mantles of Steve and John in their crusade against Zeeqo. "This time it will all be different," promised Scott over the group's old voice chat channel. "It's a quick in-and-out theft from a big corp. They'll shrug off the loss, and we're not just hurting one innocent player this time." An unusually trusting Steve asked the obvious questions. "What do you need us for? Why not just make more alts and do it yourself?"

"My alts and a real-life friend will be getting ready to board the capital ships," Scott explained before launching into a full run-down of the plan. "On this character, I'll be grabbing non-capital ships from the hangars and warping them to a safespot," he explained. "From there, I'll need you to bring them back to empire for sale." Scott left no pause in his speech into which his comrades could interject, rattling off his lengthy and thoroughly researched plan in complete detail. "For ships I can't fly," he continued, "I'll bump them out of the starbase shield with a nano-battleship, then you come in and grab them." Over the hours that followed, Scott drilled the details of the plan into his silent accomplices.

Caught in the act

The night of Tuesday finally arrived, and Scott's team stood ready to pull off the heist. As the last member of Yeomen First Guard logged off, the plan rapidly went into action. Scott warped to the starbase, noticing that some of the secure containers full of loot had already been securely stowed in inaccessible hangars. The daunted thief breathed a sigh of relief as he opened the ship hangars to find his prizes still waiting for him. What followed were several frantic hours of warping ships to the safespot and bumping others of the starbase shield for collection. To their credit, Steve and John kept up their end of the bargain and ferried every ship back to normal space to await sale.

In the early hours of the morning, a corp director unexpectedly logged in at the starbase. Scott had to think fast to come up with a cover story for his actions. "Hey Myrannk," he began in corp chat, "Psyros let me into the wormhole, says I have to move these ships to the Zephyr hangars temporarily. I think he wants to move the ship hangar or something." Scott hoped to be granted the benefit of the doubt, as Myrannk would be unable to see inside the Zephyr hangars to confirm the story. "Hold on while I look for a Zephyr dude," demanded Myrannk, perhaps suspecting that something was amiss. For the moment at least, the deception held.

An unexpected conclusion

Scott scrambled to steal the remaining few ships from under Myrannk's nose, his heart pounding in his chest. He warped to the Zephyr starbase and proceeded to ram his nano-Dominix into the Moros stationed there, slowly but surely dislodging it from the starbase's protective screen. "Just like old days," Scott mused to John and Steve, imagining his accomplices to be as enamoured with the heist as he was.

"Yeah, just like old days," Steve agreed. "Only this time you're the one getting screwed over. We're keeping your %$&£ing ships!" Steve's voice rose with a determined tone as he articulated in harsh language every piece of rage left behind by the incident with Zeeqo. Betrayed, Scott was left with nothing. For all the ships the group had stolen and all the planning invested in the heist, he would have no reward.

As he sat there shell-shocked, Scott received a private message from an unlikely participant in his heist. A Zephyr director by the name of Terodric had been summoned to check his hangars for the missing Yeomen ships, arriving just in time to see Scott successfully steal his Moros. With his own assets already lost, Terodric siezed the opportunity to claw back some of its cost. "I could stop you right now," he asserted to Scott, "... but this is freaking awesome." A few silent moments went by as Terodric processed the idea of abandoning the ill-prepared Zephyr Brigade. "I want in!" he demanded, "I'll reset the password to eject the capitals from the shield, but I want 50%. Deal?"

An impotent Scott contemplated his next move, stripped of his normally self-assured and smug demeanor. Of course he would accept the deal, but would he follow through on that promise and deliver 50% of the proceeds? He could keep all the ISK for himself, but in turn he might lose a potential ally for the future. Scott thought back to the moment he betrayed his friends for a few hundred million ISK and how he was repayed in kind. He had that choice to make again, and the lessons of the day weighed heavily on him.

"In the end, I accepted Terodric's deal and held up on my end of the bargain. I handed more than a billion ISK to someone I had just met, but I gained something much more valuable in return -- a partner. He's joined me now, and we plan our dastardly works together. This heist was a wake-up call for me, a reminder of the importance of loyalty. He could always turn on me some day, but if that's a risk inherent to trust, then I bear it willingly for the sake of having a companion in crime. In the end, there really is no honour amongst thieves except that which we make for ourselves.

There are plenty of wormholes out there ripe for conquest and countless other organisations whose asset security is balanced on the edge of a knife. Great oceans of metal grind against each other in the far reaches of nullsec, with colossal organisations placing the political fates of thousands into the hands of a corruptible few. I think it's here that my new partner and I will find our next big challenge, working together to perhaps turn the tides of war or destroy an alliance from within. Because in EVE, all you can really rely on is the loyalty of a few friends and the completeness of conquest." -- Scott

Thanks once again to "Scott" the anonymous thief for letting me tell another of his stories. If Scott ever decides to tell another story, I look forward to the opportunity to dramatise his actions again.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.
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