One of their best English-speaking members emails me to let me know of their impending departure, saying only that they've enjoyed their time and that they (the player) don't even know where everyone's going yet, just that they're going.
And I'd never tell anyone else in the group, but it makes me a little sad. Within the corp, we made more than a few jokes during our co-mutual habitation about "sudden yet inevitable betrayal", but the fact of the matter is, it was great to have them around. There aren't that many of us in our little corp, and it was nice to log in at odd times and see some other faces in our shared channel, even when none of 'my' people were on. They've helped us with intel, with shared system scanning duties, even with taking out troublesome vagrants. It'll be a shame to see them gone.
And, indeed, by the time I log in that day, they already are gone; the "Tourist Information" tower no longer on my directional scanner out by the eighth planet in the system. I forward the email on to the rest of the corp and do a bit of scouting while I have the system - truly - to myself.
Gor logs in a bit later and heads out to highsec to pick up a new purchase: a Harbinger-class battlecruiser that he's planning to bring along for sleeper-shooting activities. Gor's struggled with the fitting necessities of the wormhole -- a long-time veteran of running high-level missions in high security space with big, trundling battleships optimized to deal with one or two incoming damage types, he's seen many of his best PvE ship builds sent scurrying back to the tower, drained of power and unable to run his armor repair modules to compensate for the skittle-like rainbow of incoming damage types. His frustration is compounded, I suspect, by the fact that CB and I have been soloing the sites in smaller, shield-tanked battlecruisers and psuedo-assault cruisers like the Gila, using "passive" builds (no repair units, but a very high natural regen) that make Gor a bit nervous -- like a trained stock car driver stuck in a smartcar with an automatic transmission.
We discuss different fitting options for the laser-equipped battlecruiser and come up with a solution that leaves both of us feeling pretty good -- I'm as motivated as Gor to find something that works, because if he doesn't want to fly anything in the Sleeper sites, that's yet another person who won't be around.
"And with the Germans gone, there should be plenty of Sleeper-shooting options," I mutter.
"Yeah..." Gor replies. There's a long pause. "You know, it may sound weird, but I'm really sorry to see them go."
"I know we joked about them," he adds, "but the fact of the matter is..."
We don't say much more about it. Gor gets back to the system and we try out his Harby in a couple combat sites, and then a couple more when CB logs in. The salvage and loot from the sites is... wow. Absolutely terrible. But at least we got a good shakedown run of the Harbinger, which it passed with flying colors. It's nice to see lasers on the battlefield as well -- it's not a weapon either CB or Ty have any kind of training with. The ship isn't completely immune to the energy drain that the Sleepers use (I favor projectile cannons and missile launchers to avoid the problem), but it generally kills things so fast that the problem doesn't come up.
Gor bids his farewells for the night, and CB and I are left to do a little cleanup and rearranging at the tower.
"I'm going to move the mailbox." I'm referring to the shared storage container that lies just outside the shields. "I think it'll work better a little bit further away from the tower, where we can warp to it, and it doesn't matter if I move it, now that the Germans are gone."
"Sounds good," murmurs CB. He's buried up to his eyebrows in parts, working on different fittings for the Marie Celeste, which has quickly become his go-to ship for scouting and warping around the system. The two of us work in silence for awhile. I'm about halfway through a reorganization and reconfig on the tower modules when he announces a new arrival in the system. A Probe-class scouting frigate is on d-scan, as is (intermittently) a Megathron-class battleship and Drake battlecruiser. The two larger ships don't seem interested in tangling, but he manages to get his guns on the Probe in at least one instance -- several shots from the Marie Celeste's autocannons peel the other frigate's shields back before the pilot jumps through the wormhole back to the safety of highsec. We play cat-and-mouse with the encroaching ships until a bit past my normal point of departure, and I find it necessary to make my excuses and log out.
"Talk to you later."
"Later," he responds, but there's a pause that makes me wait for a moment.
Finally: "It's weird not to see their tower on scan."
"Yeah," I say. There's no point in asking who he's talking about. "Kinda sucks."
"It kinda does. Gonna make everything harder." He clears his throat. "Anyway. Later."
I log out, leaving him in our empty system.