It was late on the east coast of the US as the small supercapital group in Basgerin prepared, the in game clock nearing 05:00, which made it almost 1am at night as they sat on Teamspeak. Their friends had been playing EVE Online for nearly 3 hours, skirmishing with locals in an attempt to lure out their true target, a Supercarrier which had been active in what they considered their home territory. Final checks were made, and the order came to jump to a “mid-point” to get in range of the potential target, as they would need to wait for a period of time before jumping again.
As the group of 7 Titans and their capital support materialised in the next system, one of them found themselves targeted by the ship that had lit the beacon to bring them there, and a few moments later was ‘pointed’ by the Heavy Interdictor - Preventing that ship from warping off to safety.
“Tevo, can you not?” came the voice of the Titan pilot, addressing the pilot of the Heavy Interdictor. A few seconds of silence followed, before the commander of the fleet - Cercis - spoke up, and the 6 other Titans began to spool up their weapons.
“This is what happens when you Awox your corp by stealing.”
After the rest of the fleet realised what was going on and joined in pouring DPS on the stranded Titan, the Avatar belonging to an alt of BombTymer was quickly destroyed, and all his characters were kicked from the corporations they’d been a part of.
The supercarrier had been a lie.
The accusations, on the other hand, were true. But explaining how a simple corp theft turned into the public execution of a Titan for treason requires us to go back in time, beyond even how the players in this equation met, and into how the corporation that serves as the focal point for the story - Bounty Contracting Ltd. - came to be and operate. Despite being a part of the Shoot First alliance, which resides in EVE’s pirate ridden Lowsec, the corporation’s roots were only partially tied to that area. Around half of the group came from a background in Wormhole space, having previously lived independently, before merging with the lowsec native part of Bounty Contracting.
This brought with it the attitude of co-operation and asset sharing that’s more common in Wormhole space, with stockpiles of ships and weapons kept in shared ownership by the corporation for use in fights, in order to ensure that any member of their corporation could bring whatever was needed to a fight. This stockpile was contributed to by all the members of the group through taxes, as well as donations from wealthier members, and had come to form a central part of how the corporation functioned and retained it’s spot within Shoot First.
As a result of this, one of the first questions I had for BombTymer when I sat down to speak with him about this was whether that very stockpile had been his target from the beginning, or if he’d joined with more pure intentions. This lead to a story about his corporation prior to joining Bounty Contracting, where they’d been asked to take part in a fight against a larger group called Snuffed Out, who Shoot First were fighting at the time. However, they declined to take part in this, which didn’t sit well with him.
“You get the opportunity to take part in a big fight like that, you should probably take it, at least the way I play the game. So I left, and joined Shoot First, and that’s how I joined Bounty Contracting. They gave me a Machariel and I helped them defend their Fortizar that day.”
So, rather than being a tale of a master plan being laid and executed, this plot instead was something that developed naturally over time. At this point, BombTymer even lacked access to the stockpile, being a simple line member. On the other side of the equation, Bounty Contracting Ltd. director TeVo, still laments over the things that in hindsight seem suspicious about these early days of his membership within the corporation.
“A lot of the wormhole guys were wary of him [...] He wouldn’t get on comms for the first week, week and a half, he might join but he’d have his mic muted. Anyone who’s been in EVE for more than like, 6 months finds that very suspicious.”
Despite these initial concerns, he did eventually open up, and began to integrate with the corporation. Both sides seem to speak fondly of this time, with BombTymer enjoying being in a group that shared the same goals as him, and Tevo noting just how proactive a member of the corp he was - Even handing out ships of his own to members when officers who had access to the stockpile weren’t available. Levels of activity were high, and as the war between Shoot First and Snuffed Out progressed into it’s final stages, there was plenty to get involved in.
A month and a half passed, and those initial hesitations faded from memory in the minds of most of Bounty Contracting, but things weren’t all smooth sailing. With the war having ended in defeat for Shoot First, and summer picking back up, many in the leadership team needed to spend time away from the game. Given how dependent the corporation was on having regularly active members of leadership around to hand out ships to the line members below them, this presented a problem, and someone was going to need to be promoted to fill in the gaps. This became the subject of much debate, and despite slight hesitation, the decision was made to promote BombTymer to an officer role after only a month and a half with the group.
This was apparently his first experience as a member of leadership in any EVE Online corporation, despite having previously played for 3 years, and now he found himself with full access to all of Bounty Contracting’s stockpile. Billions of ISK in ships, modules and BPCs, all laid out in front of him. But rather than swiping it all and running cackling into the sunset with a big bag marked “swag” on it as you might expect, instead things continued as normal, and BombTymer used the access for it’s intended purpose - Handing out ships and weapons to line members when the need arose.
Still, this is the point at which our story takes a turn towards how it will all end up, just not for the reasons you might expect. With the war over, Shoot First had little goals to work towards in their area, and the lack of content and activity became a sticking point for BombTymer. He reportedly spoke to the other members of leadership about this, especially the head of the corporation, who’s ingame name was Rex Azzholes. Many ideas of where the corp might go, or how this might be solved were bandied about, but no progress was seemingly made on the topic. This left BombTymer feeling dissatisfied with the situation, as he felt he’d reached the limit of what he could do to help the alliance, and by extension the corporation that he’d joined to be part of it.
So, early in August, BombTymer began to pack up his own assets and prepared to leave the corporation. But as he did so, he began to look upon the situation he found himself in under a different light.
“It was almost like a switch got flipped - I have access to all this stuff, and if I’m going to leave, I might as well make my time worth it. [...] I was like “I’m going to take some stuff”, and over the course of the hour I took some stuff, and then I realised if I just took some stuff they’d know it was me - So how about I just take everything?”
And so, the 8 hour long theft began, with BombTymer constantly worried that another player from the corporation would log on and spot what he was doing and ruin the heist. He was also fighting the client whilst trying to do so, with the process causing the game to freeze multiple times, as thousands of items were transferred from the corporations offices to his personal hangar. But despite the adrenaline and worry, he was able to pull it off without being caught, and the theft went unnoticed until the next day. On August the 14th, a ping went out from Rex, asking the various directors and officers in the corp where everything had gone.
“It definitely hit that denial, that someone we trust could just turn on us, at this point I was even looking at my Wormhole partner Nuke - Going, well, could it have been him? Is Rex playing at something here? Once it became known it wasn’t an accident, we definitely just started eyeballing each other sideways.“
Whilst the situation was unclear, and calls were made to check whether anyone had made a mistake and accidentally pulled assets into the wrong hangar, or if the game had glitched out - Paranoia began to set in. Meanwhile, far from being ready to act to cover his tracks as an investigation started up, BombTymer was sitting at his desk at work.
“Rex got online while I was at work and started asking where all the stuff was, and I was like, ‘Nah I don’t have anything, blah blah blah’, and then everybody just started talking in the Discord. That was a huge adrenaline rush, I was freaking out, everything’s going to be blown and I haven’t even moved 90% of the stuff yet. There was a couple of points where it was really sketch.”
Eventually, a plan was laid out, with Rex and the rest of the leadership of the corporation agreeing to a meeting the next day to start the investigation. Together, in a conversation that BombTymer was present for, the facts began to be laid out. There was a 13 hour period between when they could be certain that the items had been there, and when they’d been discovered stolen by Rex, which meant they could narrow down their search just to players who’d been online during that window.
It also gave them a specific timeframe to narrow down their study all of those suspects in a program called EVE HR, which is similar to the ESI-knife talked about in my article on catching spies, which allows them to comb the ingame records and assets of all the players who sign up to it. Following the meeting, it was agreed that everyone would have to sign up for the program.
“This is another adrenaline moment for me, I started freaking out, because they’re going to see everything with these trade windows and these contracts if they pull everything - So how can I submit my ESI without getting caught? I set up a third account, an alpha, and started contracting myself everything to this account they knew nothing about. [...] Then I started screenshotting all my asset windows to prove I didn’t steal anything”
This attempt to cover his tracks would succeed for a few days, but as all the asset checks came back clear, the effort of digging through the past in EVE-HR began. In just the original 13 hour period of suspicion, there were over 2,000 entries of transactions that the players investigating had to manually dig through, and as corporation hangars to player hangar transfers alone leave no logs, they came up empty handed.
So, the search expanded to cover all the logs they had access to after the theft was confirmed to occur as well, in a process that I’m told was only achieved through the brave sacrifice of many cans of Red Bull to the cause. 26 hours split between various directors as they peer reviewed each other’s logs continued, before finally getting their first break. Whilst BombTymer had been shown to have none of the missing assets, deep in the logs they’d been scouring, they found suspicious contracts after the theft which transferred something in a station a jump away from where the corporation had held their assets.
That alone wasn’t enough to be sure, but it was enough to cause the investigation to dig further, with Rex splitting off directors to continue it out of view of BombTymer. After further digging with locator agents and other tools, another fact came to light, as BombTymer’s Jump Freighter alt was spotted out in the middle of nowhere. So, a completely unaffiliated character was moved towards that system to keep an eye on it, waiting for him to log off. After he did, Rex used a technique which allowed him to look inside that character’s hangar by setting up a corporation office in the same location, to check what was inside.
Whilst a good chunk of the assets had already been moved out and sold, it was a partial match to the list of items that had been stolen, which the corporation had an extensive list of. One capital ship in particular amongst this list stood out to Tevo when the screenshot was shared by Rex to the rest of the investigation team.
“He’d renamed the Moros to Free Moros. Just one of those God Damnit moments, where you think did he do this just to get at us the entire time, or was it just a thing of opportunity. But then you see “Free Moros” like he’s gloating about it, and you just get angry. Blindingly pissed off.”
But, just finding out who was behind the theft wasn’t enough, as they needed to make sure BombTymer didn’t know he’d been caught if they were going to be able to do anything with the information. So, whilst Rex contacted the leadership of the alliance above them, a second plan was hatched. Whilst co-ordinating on Discord, the original lowsec side of the group and the wormhole part began to point fingers at one another in the leadership channels BombTymer had access to, trying to make him think that they’d lost his scent. And, by the sounds of things, it worked.
Whilst BombTymer focused on trying to exfiltrate the remains of his ill-gotten gains, in order to make what he hoped would be a clean getaway in order to keep his reputation clean, the trap we introduced right at the start was set up. Whilst gangs were sent out to roam with the ostensible goal of baiting out a Hel on one Teamspeak server, a small group of players were discussing the final details of the plan on a seperate one, with the overall command having fallen on the Alliance’s main FC - Cercis. BombTymer had been willing to use his Titan before under Cercis’ command, so he had been the one chosen to make the call, rather than anyone in Bounty Contracting Ltd. itself.
After the preperations were complete, and BombTymer was noted to be online, the ping for everyone to bring out their Titans was sent. A few minutes later, his alt joined the fleet, and they were all together on the main comms channel. Those involved in the trap tried their best to stay silent, not wanting to let anything slip that could endanger the plan, thankful for the many unaware players who were filling the dead air. Then, finally, it happened. The order to jump was given, the Avatar was tackled, and catharsis was most certainly delivered in the form of a firey explosion.
“Things like this happen in EVE so often, where a guy or girl steals so much from a corp and just disappears, without ever seeing that name again. We got lucky, extremely lucky. We found him in time, and we were able to extract some form of punishment.”
On the other side of the equation, BombTymer accepted the fate of his Titan as soon as he realised what was going on and his fate was announced to the rest of the fleet.
“I was pretty much in shock, I wasn’t even touching the mouse at that point, I was just like ‘Well, I’m getting fragged. [...] I wasn’t like, having an adrenaline rush about it, but I felt kind of euphoric. Like, wow, this is a really cool event that took place. I robbed them, they get revenge, it was wild - I felt like I really was playing EVE, the kind of thing you read about.’”
In total, BombTymer was able to get away with just under 250 billion ISK worth of items, more than enough to replace his lost ship. So, perhaps it was a little easier to shrug off the loss than most players would have found it. Still, his plan to get out of the alliance with his reputation intact was ruined, and a highly upvoted thread about the whole incident appeared on Reddit.
Despite his concerns about getting into a group in the future with the character however, it didn’t seem to end up being a problem, and BoomTymer found himself in the recruiting corp for Origin. - A major corp inside Fraternity. Apparently, in part due to the story itself, which prompted previous friends of his to get in touch and encourage him to apply. Whilst it’s obviously unlikely BoomTymer will ever hold a position with access to so much (or any) freely available assets again, he seems content with that future.
On the side of Bounty Contracting Ltd. the fallout was a little worse, as one would expect from a group which has just had a core aspect of it’s identity and cultural fabric stripped away from it by someone they trusted, but it has retained almost all of its members since the theft. The corporation seems to have rallied around trying to replace these losses, and the way access works within the corp was re-organised to prevent anyone having access to so much at once, with Rex reportedly “Training Paranoia to V, then Advanced Paranoa to V” to prevent something similar happening in the future.
Given what happened, one can hardly blame him.
Now, whilst player driven stories in EVE never really end, with both parties likely to go on to take part in different things, we have reached the conclusion of this particular chapter. Have you ever wished you could get revenge on someone in EVE? Or gotten away with something that people probably wanted your head on a pike for? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.