One of the most humanising (if sadly under-developed and controversial) aspects of EVE Online is the avatar element introduced in the Incursion and Incarna expansions. Although it provided little in terms of gameplay, ‘Walking in Stations’ was a bold, if botched, attempt to bridge the disconnect between player and spaceship and it remains an endless source of material for column inches.

Today’s Tech 4 Flashback author (and also a contributor of vocal talents to the audio series) used the pseudonym of Sabine Clochemerle to pen articles for Tech 4. This coverage was a clever poke at the attempted introduction of micro-transaction vanity items via Incarna‘s NeX store and a thinly veiled criticism of the management decisions behind it.

At least that was my interpretation.

Flagship Store Fiasco Imminent?
by Sabine Clochemerle

Noble Appliances’ flagship luxury clothing store, Noble Exchange (NeX), has been beset, some even say cursed, by near non-stop controversy and protests since its launch in June YC-113.

The company CEO and share-holders remain shrouded in mystery and many believe that the company is backed and run by the powerful and secretive Tash-Murkon family. For decades Noble Appliances has specialised in highly exclusive limited runs of niche goods for the ultra wealthy and revered.  In mid YC-113 they diversified into another elitist range of goods – this time specifically aimed at the difficult and unpredictable “podder” market.  Though many capsuleers are extremely prosperous it appears that even these privileged sons and daughters of New Eden like a good bargain, and in an unprecedented show of solidarity called for NeX to close its doors and fire its entire management.

Rather ominously there has been no major new release of designs since August YC-113. Though House of Rana and Sennda of Emrayur have refused to comment, Sihan Bemoumouf, a spokesperson for Vallou admitted that they had made “significant investments in hiring top notch designers in anticipation of an influx of orders from NeX.” She went on to say, “Quite frankly this has not happened and we’re very worried. The NeX buyers have not been responding to any of our design submissions for many weeks now.”

An insider source who asked to remain anonymous has been quoted as saying that NeX is in an “unstoppable nose-dive to financial ruin. The 1000 Aurum give away was an accounting nightmare.  We begged management to reconsider but they were adamant. The company will take a long time to recover from that massive financial outlay which still fails to show any significant return.”

In further developments, Mr Bamadak Orabasash (Chief Coordinator of Public Relations Noble Appliances) was seen last week partying with his Personal Assistant and “It Girl” Zizi Babalou on Crystal Boulevard, Caille. Zizi was wearing customized lavishly embroidered “Mystrioso” boots. The Noble Appliances public relations department has always staunchly declared that the integrity of the designs would never be“sullied,” all the more perplexing that a fairly low level employee appears to be the exception.   The day after the sighting, Mr Orabasash was seen looking harried and distressed as he rushed from the monthly share holder’s meeting to his shuttle. He declined to comment on either Noble Exchange’s apparent slump or employee favouritism.

Outside the NeX headquarters in Suner, the gigantic – and by now somewhat faded – “Grand Opening” posters still grace the towering building. A demonstrator who asked to be identified as “Mr Bridgington” stages a daily protest there, calling for the company’s archaic notions of what constitutes women and men’s wear to be discarded. He is understood to be representative of a large body of podders who support the call for gender equality in garment selection. Menswear and womenswear remains strictly delineated, and Mrs Fararouze Elnah (floor manager NeX) says that the store has “no plans to change its targeted approach.”

On hearing this, Mr Bridgington retorted that it pained him that the issue had still not been resolved.“I demand fair treatment,” he declared.

Professional agitator and populist Jade Constantine, one of the more stridently outspoken amongst the podder elite, is quoted as saying “NeX is evil!” and she has repeatedly denounced Noble Exchange as a brazen front for the ruling parties to separate capsuleers from their hard-earned ISK. Many Noble Exchange employees are now reportedly very concerned about their personal safety and livelihoods in anticipation of Ms Constantine and her cadre of activists long threatened retaliatory measures.

Further news of drastically stepped up security measures at all NeX stores only serve to give weight to the rumours about this troubled company,  but to date management decline the opportunity to shed light on their current situation.

[If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more EVE fiction in the Tech 4 Flashback series, here’s a good place to start: Tech 4 Flashback: The Stories of the Non-Capsuleer Residents of New Eden.]