5AM, April the 18th, 2005. Mirial, CEO of the giant Ubiqua Seraph corporation, warped into the Haras solar system with her most trusted lieutenant. And at that moment, a single word was sent silently, secretly and simultaneously to operatives of the Guiding Hand Social Club across the galaxy. 'Nicole'. Mirial wouldn't leave alive.
She was piloting her prize ship, a Navy Apocalypse worth billions of ISK - Eve's currency. Her lieutenant, Arenis Xemdal, flew an Imperial Apocalypse, of which only two were known to exist in the entire game universe.
'Nicole' was the go-code for a hit that took ten months of infiltration to set up. By 6am it was over. Every Ubiqua Seraph office in the galaxy was raided, the contents of every shared hangar - not to mention their corporate coffers - gone. Mirial's prize ship was annihilated, her escape pod nuked and her vacuum-frozen corpse sucked into the cargo bay of a Guiding Hand Social Club vessel.
The simultaneous ambush and galaxy-wide hangar theft inflicted financial damage upwards of 30 billion ISK - $16,500 US dollars at IGE.com's prices. The value of the stolen assets utterly dwarfed the original fee for the job. And yet the only item the Guiding Hand's anonymous client requested for himself was the cold, dead body of the target. It's safe to say this was personal.
"At the time of the contract's signing, we requested one billion ISK," says Guiding Hand CEO Istvaan Shogaatsu, "which was quite a sum so many months ago. We could never have foreseen, however, the gains upon its execution... we found ourselves staring at Fort Knox with the key in our hands."
Not that there was any question of the spoils distracting Guiding Hand's operatives from their objective. "The contract above all" is their philosophy. "The financial compensation becomes secondary to the recognition we garnered for our strike."
Et Tu, Arenis
By April 18th, the Guiding Hand had operatives in every level of Ubiqua Seraph's organisation. Several were on the board of directors, and primary agent Arenis Xemdal "rose to a rank sufficient to challenge the CEO's decisions."
"Multiple vector infiltration is a trademark of GHSC," Shogaatsu adds. "We feel one spy is rarely enough."
It took extraordinary effort, meticulous planning, and one moment of spectacularly orchestrated treachery. Xemdal had convinced Mirial - referred to as 'the objective' by Guiding Hand operatives - to fly her ridiculously valuable Navy Apocalypse alongside his even more ridiculously valuable Imperial Apocalypse "as a show of UQS (Ubiqua Seraph) might".
"The early-morning strike against Mirial's battleship was fraught with concern." Shogaatsu recalls. "One tense moment occurred when a pilot belonging to an unaffiliated third party hostile to UQS entered the system where our operatives' trap for Mirial lay. Another came soon after, when Guiding Hand operative Uuve Savisaalo - tasked with assisting the kill on Mirial - was spotted arriving in system by an Ubiqua Seraph pilot. These events spooked the objective, who made a short jump before being set upon by Uuve and - in a moment of 'Et tu, Brute' if ever there was one - Arenis Xemdal's Imperial Apocalypse."
The ambush was an unprecedented clash of the titans. A Navy Apocalypse is one of the most powerful and valuable ships in the galaxy, but even so, an Imperial Apocalypse is overkill - a few cheap Battleships would suffice. To use an even more valuable ship was an act of absurd bravado, and one with enormous risks. It's also typical of the Guiding Hand's flair for theatrical excess.