Friday, February 15, 2013

The Value of a Soul

 -- A story of betrayal.


Ok, I'm not sure what your opinion maybe about corp infiltration and or AWOXING it differs from person to person.  I want to clarify my stance on it right now.

All forms of pvp in EVE are valid. Be it undercutting people in the market, obtaining/enforcing  a monopoly, creating an EVE scam that nets you billions or just millions, shooting blues, stealing, or just plain ganking someone. These things are real in EVE. The game for some is a battle of wits, cunning and just plain luck. This is what makes EVE so special to me.

All of the above being said each of us follows a different moral code of conduct when it comes with dealing with each other in EVE.

 I personally draw the line in the sand box and say, 'if I give out my word, which I don't do often. I won't break it'. My pilots trust me because I haven't given them reason not to and on instances they have trusted me, it has been to their gain.  Wormhole life is all about reputation and trust.

This game for me is much like a small mob family. All targets are exploitable, but family/Corp is most important above all. Cross the Corp/Family and we got trouble.

Now that we have my sociopathic outlook sorted, on with the story.


The story goes as follows. A friend of a friend joined a small corp for the soul reason of destroying and stealing its assets. When a social predator chooses his targets, its usually not by random happenstance. From talking with the individual and finding his motives, he explained. They had assets floating in space (in the WH) and looked to be the 'trusting' sort. They had an orca and thanatos floating in their unoccupied POS with a recruitment advert easily found. 

Within 5 days of being a newbie in the worm hole corp, he was given "Starbase Config" roles. The reasoning behind giving this new person this level of access to a POS is hard to understand. I could make some guesses, help with fuel, help with POS management in some way, who knows. The point is, it was done. This gave the new person the ability to online and offline POS modules, including ALL POS towers owned by the corp.

The mark's wormhole had 3 POSs up in it all of different shapes/sizes and uses. They had only 1 large POS, 1 medium and 1 small (which is were the new person was located). I suspect they felt they could give him that level of access because the other POSs in the system were password protected. But you can offline/online a tower from outside the forcefield, also with this level of access, I think password protecting doesn't even stop him.

The Take down

Our corp doesn't do this type of thing very often, so our experience with these types of attacks is slightly limited. We made some mistakes, but keep in mind we don't know exactly what would happen in a given situation. All of the intel we got was from the infiltrator.

The marks had a habit of sitting in ships and being AFK while they went to work. No real reason behind this, its just what they did. This made it difficult to set up an accurate invasion time when the marks would be out of the POS and we could take them. We had no idea if they were actually behind the keyboard or just afk. The problem we were trying to tackle was when they noticed the shields were down, they would simply put them back up and remove the roles from the infiltrator.

Main Mistake
The primary mistake we made was thinking it took time to offline a POS and that it would show up on the overviews of the marks that it would be happening and it could then be stopped without a laps in defenses. This was a HUGE mistake on our part. Turns out in hind sight, a Pos can shut off with a flip of a switch and it just takes forever for it to be turned back on. Had we known this, the attack would have gone very differently.

In planning the attack I asked my guys multiple times if they had a ethical problem with executing the op. Personally I did, and I wrestled with it for awhile. My personal game ethics have nearly always been honorable combat. Not always even combat, but never any underhanded stuff. Being a WH ceo and constantly on the watch for spies. I thought to myself, have I become the person, I have been trying to protect my corp from? Has my paranoia manifested in very thing I build my defenses to keep out? My empathy for these poor bastards we were about to take for billions was strong. The first one is always the hardest, then a part of you kinda hides/dies and it becomes easier. I guess its a good thing I even thought about it at all, but the line in the sand clearly moved back a tad this day.

The Plan

We were still on wrong track thinking off lining a POS took a while. So we planed accordingly. We moved our fleet to the K space entrance of the WH. There were 5 actual humans controlling multiple pilots. In total we had about 14 characters. Each doing a different role. One of my characters was going to bring in a invasion kit (Iteron 5 with a cloak, 1 med pos, ship maint array, pos fuel,Corp hangar) two others would be scouts/'eyes' with 1 of my characters as a combat ship (enyo). We were going on the idea once we popped the ships we would need to lock/pod the pilots to further disrupt their ability to remove roles from the infiltrator.

We brought 2 orca's for looting reasons, fast lock frig,1 rapier, 1 interdictor for pods, two battle cruisers (hurricane and drake) just in case. We were accompanied by a Black legion guy, also a friend of a friend who was invited to join in on the fun.

The first plan was for the infiltrator to change the password of the large pos so that a out of corp pilot could warp to him and jump into the thanatos floating in the POS and fly it to a safe spot. The infiltrator was sure he wasn't allowed in the main POS and his sudden appearance in it would raise suspicion. Once the thanatos was safely away, he would change the POS targeting rules to not shoot on the fleet, and then Eject the marks in it out of the pos with the "allow corp usage" button. We would then lock up the ships ejected, pod them. Then with them dead, we would remove all fuel in the POS and shut it down for good. Our primary target would be the large POS because we felt it had the lions share of loot, followed by the medium then the small.

Upon execution we ran into some snags. The infiltrator warped in, changed password, thanatos pilot warped to the thanny and then warped it to saftey. The AFK tengu that was piloted by the CEO right next to the thanatos, came home from work 10 minutes before we began. Bad timing, bad luck. He also noted in corp chat, "I think we have company" having seen the rapier jump into the hole and make its way to the large pos. We executed the plan, expelling the CEO and his tengu out of the large POS he bounced almost 100k from the POS away from our fleet and the cloaked ships we had around the POS. We failed to tackle him with our fast ships, he warped off. Moving as quickly as possible our guys started ejecting small cans near the POS tower to fill up with fuel being yanked by the infiltrator. Once the we filled up 5 cans worth of fuel blocks, the infiltrator got the idea to just turn off the force field, which he did. It went down without a timer. (uggggg)

The infiltrator headed to the medium POS to repeat the steps. Half way through warp, he found his roles stripped. We only took 1 out of 3 POSes. Not the best outcome but we would make due. My guys started targeting the SMA and Hanger. The SMA was empty. Terrible outcome. We expected that to be filled ships because this was the largest and most defended of the three. The Hanger was filled with minerals for what we though would be their second carrier created in the C3. It also had multiple BPOs for small ships and BPCs. Total value of all cans 3.1 bill. Not as good as we thought it would be, but an OK pay out for the infiltrator and most involved after 5 days of work.

One of my alts opened up a convo with CEO of infiltrated corp. He took it well. Here is the convo. 
My goal in this convo was to sell him back his stolen thanatos and exit his hole with a little bit more money in our pockets. My corp was thinking of double crossing him further, but I explained to them. Even though we just turned off the POS with a spy, I wasn't happy about going back on my word once given. This is a very clear distinction in my mind, but might be unclear for others. Since I'm in charge, thats what we were going to do. All ransoms must be upheld. Period. Needless to say, the people we just attacked were not convinced by my conviction level.

The CEO was calm for the most part and understood, this was a purely business transaction. He gave me the impression while talking with him the owner of the thanatos may want to buy it back at a discount. Remember the value of the thanatos is nearly 1.4 billion. We can't take it with us and sell it on the open market, because its trapped in this C3. Capital ships can not enter or exit C1 - C4's. They can be built in them, by retarded people, but not brought in or out. Its value is entirely based on what the people living in the wormhole place on it. Hence the best person to sell it to, are the people actually living there. We asked for 800m.

Seeing that the trust point of the transaction needed to be addressed by a 3rd party, I went to the only people I trust to keep their words in worm holes. Mercs. Good mercenaries in EVE have a very strict code of conduct when dealing with customers of their services. They call these transactions 'contracts'. Once a contract is negotiated it will not be altered by ANY party, unless its change agreed upon by all parties. Exhale is one of the best in wormhole space. The call went out in the merc channel that I needed a 3rd party for a ransom. This is a common thing for mercs to deal with so the professionalism I got was awesome. Here is that convo.

By the end of that convo. It was clear they were not willing to pay. Other actions needed to take place. Being a CEO of a PVP corp, I didn't want a unfit thanatos kill on our kill boards, I was happy to self destruct it and collect the insurance money. My corp had some concerns, they felt there was a recent change in the game saying if you self destructed a ship, no insurance was paid. They also had blood lust in their hearts and wanted something to explode. The black legion guy volunteered to pilot it and get shot by us. He received reluctant permission from his alliance/corp to do so.  My corp stripped the thanatos of whatever was on it, and fit it with whatever we could find from the loot of the marks POS. It made this hilarious kill mail. and this video of the thanatos's destruction.

 After the destruction of the thanatos, the rest of the op was us removing the stolen goods out of the targets wormhole. Our intention was never to "take the C3". It was always just to get what we could get and move on in a day. 

We heard random conversations after the fact that the primary CEO that had awarded the infiltrator his roles has stepped down. I hope for the sake of the corp, the new CEO will be more aware of what POS roles have what impact and which don't. 



Having participated in the darker side of EVE, I'm still not really sure this will be the path our corp will follow. I hate using the typical excuse, "its just a game" because in my eyes its not. The bonds of human interaction are real to me. The empathy I feel for my victims is real, the care I extend for my friend and corp mates is real. The effort applied to the game by the victims has some value. To disrespect them, is to disrespect the hunter/prey relationship. 

In summary, I'm conflicted and I'll leave it at that.



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