When the Rorqual landed on grid, the excitement between the 13 pilots waiting for it was palpable. Shanq had done it. Nine months of spying and lying came to fruition in the destruction of one of EVE's most coveted targets: the white whale of New Eden, the Rorqual.
In seconds, the field was covered in interdiction bubbles, a precaution that ended up being unneeded as the two billion ISK capital ship exited warp into the snarling jaws of EVE's elite PVP corporation, Hard Knocks Inc.. But the Rorqual pilot wasn't there. Nexony, the unwitting victim, was away from his keyboard the moment Shanq pulled the pin on his devious plan. Shanq told me it was hours later when the pilot returned to his desk to find his character's clone waking up naked and shipless light years away.
Shanq Myteia has only been flying with Hard Knocks for a year, but nine months of that time has been divided between his second life as a newbie in Pepe Le Pew Productions, a corporation based in a massive alliance in null-sec, one grown fat from sucking at the teat of New Eden's most lucrative systems. Against the trillions of ISK these alliances make, one Rorqual wouldn't amount to much, but its destruction was symbolic. Pepe Le Pew Productions might not die, but they would bleed.
Shanq Myteia masterminded the whole operation, nine months of sleuthing and spying coming to an electric conclusion as, within minutes, the coveted ship was reduced to smouldering wreckage.
"I've never done any spying before, so I thought, let's try it out and see how it works," Shanq said during our interview. He has a charming humility about him, as if his little experiment didn't end up reaping billions in losses.
Registering a brand new account, Shanq created a character and applied to join Pepe Le Pew Productions under the guise of a brand new player. As his application was accepted, the corporation would never know what kind of viper they had just welcomed into their home.
"I was pretending to be a complete newbie, I was asking questions I already knew," Shanq said.
It was the perfect cover; one that allowed him to prod the corporation's strategies and defenses under the guise of naive curiosity. In reality, Shanq was relaying everything he could back to his mates in Hard Knocks.
I asked Shanq if, during his nine month stint with the German corporation—the language he speaks natively, he ever felt a tingle of guilt. Shanq laughed.
"All they cared about was money," he said. "I can't understand how you have fun with the game mining the whole day."
"I basically just used them and it worked."
It seems cold, but to a hardened PVP corporation like Hard Knocks, EVE has no room for emotional attachment. It is a game to beaten, and the countless players they destroy in a given day are wiped away with the same detachment you'd give a misplaced number in a game of sudoku.
Shanq hoped his spying would benefit Hard Knocks, but he never imagined that nine months would see them destroying one of the rarest targets in EVE Online. Rorquals are industrial capital ships, incredibly rare with minimal uses for combat—meaning they are rarely ever vulnerable. Catching them requires extremely good timing, a little luck, and, in the case of Shanq Myteia, one massive oversight.
"I logged in my spy character and I saw a Rorqual," Shanq said. "I saw him in a [player owned starbase], he was in a standing fleet and I was in his standing fleet as well."
"He didn't check the box where you cannot be fleet warped out of the [player owned starbase]."
The Rorqual sat on the other side of an inch thick pulsing force field. Within that protective layer, however, it could have been a million miles away.
But Shanq had an idea. Without that little box unchecked, Shanq could, if he possessed the proper roles within the standing fleet, theoretically force the ship to warp to a destination of his choosing—say, right into the jaws of 13 of New Eden's most ruthless killers, perhaps?
For days Shanq deliberated how to earn the roles needed to set the trap, until one evening it dawned on him.
"Since random [corporation members] were creating the standing fleets for them, I created the standing fleet right after downtime," Shanq told me. "I logged in very quickly, set the standing fleet up, and just waited."
That evening, fortune smiled on Hard Knocks as a wormhole opened up, bridging them to the system with minimal jumps. Within minutes, Hard Knocks could muster a fleet, spring the trap, and disappear into the night leaving Pepe Le Pew Productions none the wiser.
"I was pretty excited. A Rorqual kill is a special thing."
Hard Knocks pulled out all the stops, fielding interdictors to prevent escape and a support fleet just in case the fight escalated into a full-blown engagement. Shanq had created the standing fleet, staying up late in order to be the first one back in after the daily server downtime. He gave himself full permissions and the ability to warp the Rorqual against its will. But as he pressed the button and watched the ship zip off to the welcome party that was rapidly entering the system, there would be no defense and no rescue attempt. The Rorqual would be destroyed before anyone knew what happened.
As quickly as they came, Hard Knocks had left. Shanq was playing on multiple instances of EVE, simultaneously piloting two characters within the Hard Knocks fleet and his own spy character.
At this moment, Shanq was mentally prepared to abandon his espionage, figuring that Pepe Le Pew Productions would have examined the situation and discovered what led to such an embarrassing kill. As it turned out, they didn't.
Whether it was through incompetence, ignorance, or just dumb luck, Shanq's betrayal wasn't uncovered. The Rorqual had only whet their appetite for destruction, and in the following days, Hard Knocks proceeded to knock over several other capital ships belonging to the alliance.
Eventually, Shanq's cover was blown. Alliance leadership pressured Pepe Le Pew Productions into firing him, though the CEO maintained Shanq's innocence. As a parting gift, Shanq pretended to be distraught that he was being sacrificed by his corporation just to mess with them one last time.
In Hard Knocks, killing an industrial capital like a Rorqual is a moment worthy of celebration. Each of their kills requires the pilot who set it up to leave a poem on the public killmail for everyone to read. Shanq's limerick was another form of espionage, as he created it to reflect a story that the Rorqual was killed because the pilot accidentally had left its thrusters on until Hard Knocks found it well outside of the protective shields. No piece of counter-intelligence is ever too small.
In a POS is sitting a Rorq
Not knowing he might be a dork
Slowly boating out into deepspace danger
like a tall and brave texas ranger
until he notices he's borked
For those interested, Shanq also documented the kill in a video which you can watch below.