Sunday, November 23, 2014

After Action Reports

“Good gods.”

I stumbled over to the wet bar in my quarters and drew myself a large glass of water, before collapsing on a nearby comfy couch. Already today’s roams were starting to blur together, aiming to join the muddled memories of the other roams this month.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a vague movement, heard a barely audible meow coming from the next room, but I was too tired to rise to the bait, tempting as it was. When the first weeks after The Conference had been rather slow, the previous weeks had dramatically picked up in pace.

It probably started with Redemption Road’s anniversary roam, where the doctrine was “anything armor goes”. And unsurprisingly we had ended up with an amazing kitchen-sink fleet of ships, including two carriers. Two? Three? It was already getting fuzzy. But I’d never forget the recon report “I have a Wyvern 12km off the gate. I think he’s going to crash the gate.” Unfortunately for us, there were more capitals on the other side of the gate. Not that it mattered - we had long lost our own capitals at that point.


A “Newbro roam”, as our intrepid leader called it, aimed at freshly licensed capsuleers. We even had two actual newbros with us on that roam, and not only did they hold up quite well, their enthusiasm was infectious.

A regular Redemption Road roam, which ended into the most epic extraction in my memory: we spent almost more time escorting the few remaining members of our fleet (all logistics, if my memory lie to me again) out of null-sec into the warm embrace of hi-sec, than on the roam itself.

A sight-seeing tour, which ended up me being jumped by a Rupture when I wasn’t paying attention. Ironically, the Rupture had been piloted by the same pilot who had pod-killed me just a few days before.

Another roam which had ended in a welp, and when on our way back home we attacked a local pirate with a fleet consisting mostly of pods and rookie ships, we got accused of “blobbing”.

Today’s Agony public roam. After all these years, it was good to see them trying to be that Agony again with whom I first dipped my toes into combat flying. Fleet was a bit rough around the edges at the beginning, partly due to the much higher than expected attendance, but eventually the FC handled the fleet with calm confidence. And after that roam…

I took another swallow of my water.

We had taken a short break to replenish our nutrients, when our intrepid leader came up with another idea: “Let’s go to the nearby rookie training system, and see if we can some of them to join us for some real flying.” Due to my current disagreements with CONCORD, I couldn’t be with the recruitment, but I followed their conversation over comms. And my heart sank when I heard no reply to their offers.

But then one of the rookies took a chance, and signed up. And another one.

And that’s all we needed - a fleet was quickly formed, and our intrepid leader took the rookies into a whirlwind tour of low- and null-sec, eventually ending up in RF-GGF and facing a gang from the Center of Advanced Studies. They had downshipped in sight of the purpose of this particular roam, but were not willing to hold any punches - not that we wanted them to. A short, but bloody fight erupted, and our rookies got to taste their first blood.

CAS graciously offered free passage for our survivors, but unfortunately there was also a FIGL cruiser gang roaming the area, and quickly the roam turned into another of our epic extractions.

The fleet split, John Hexis field-promoted from skirmisher to FC, in order to get one of our rookies out safely; myself heading towards John to scout, losing another Talwar to a gate camp; Greygal shepherding her half of the fleet out on a different route; orders on comms criss-crossing.

But we made it out, with the rookies all excited - less than a week on their licenses, and they had already experienced actual null-sec!

And even though we disbanded the fleet after docking, one of the rookies accepted the invitation to join us as we headed for the nearest watering hole on Stacmon V station, and hung out for hours with us.

I emptied my glass, my eyes falling shut.

Op success, as they say.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Insomnia

“Fsck it!”

With a resolute motion, I threw back the blanket, and leveled myself off my bed. Sleep simply didn’t come, and from experience I knew that I needed to burn off whatever was keeping my mind occupied.

However, while slipping into my clothes, I had to wonder what exactly to do. The last days I had been mostly been occupied with catching up on my ISK-generating operations, and playing with kittens. But now I was caught up, and the kittens were asleep, so … what now?

…hmm, undock, maybe?

I did have this Stabber humming in my hanger - a rather vanilla fit, except for one modification to make it more suitable for the sparsely populated low-sec system I tended to operate in. Not the sturdiest or most capable of the Minmatar cruisers, but agile and amazingly-looking. Though… after months of flying Frigates, Cruisers were still a strange beast for me.

And as of where to go… a look at the map showed me only little activity in the nearby systems. But there was some - enough to warrant a look. At worst, I’d fly a 40-system roundtrip, and I’d be able to sleep afterwards.

I straightened up: it wasn’t the best of plans, but at least it was a plan.

----------

The drone of my ship’s warp engines increased, a warp tunnel formed, and my Stabber was hurled through the void of sub-space to the next gate. As expected, my tour of the usual low-sec systems had brought up nothing. In one system, one POCO would be coming out of re-inforced 16 hours later - I had no personal beef with either involved party, but an opportunity to interfere as dishonorable 3rd-party is not to be sneezed upon. But otherwise the space was empty.

… as was Sendaya, my destination for the evening. Several people in system, but - as a quick dock confirmed - all docked up.

Damn! That meant that I either would have to go back home now, or I did what I usually avoided to do: go into null-sec.

Null-sec is scary: bubbles, gangs, bombers - and even if you survived, there’d be no security status changes to record your efforts.

I hesitated … and then instructed my ship to head towards the Doril gate. Something my subconscious kept saying about beggars and choosers.

Doril was… empty.

I let out a breath of amniotic fluid I didn’t realize I had held. Jumping in null-sec is usually one of the critical parts of a journey, and all the times before it had happened to me, it was not before a flighty scout had given the all-clear. Yet here I was all by myself in a cruiser: no scout, no intel - just the seat of my panties. Well, might as well press my luck and head towards Catch.

…I didn’t quite make it.

Jumping into Utopia, the scanner presented me with a Sabre at the gate, and an Ares at a tactical which may or may not have been associated.

Sabre… that’s a HIC, right? Or just a ‘dictor? … doesn’t matter - if it can put up bubbles, it’s bad news.

        Druur Monakh> That’s not looking good.

A sane pilot probably would have tried to crash the gate, or done something amazingly smart, but I was sleep deprived. So I just punched it.

Breaking gate cloak, I kicked my ship to establish an optimal orbit around that Sabre, and began the targeting sequence for my weapons. When I’d go down, I’d go down fighting!

The Sabre targeted me back, predictably bubbled the area, and started shooting me with his auto cannons.

Three Stealth Bombers decloaked. And that made the difference.

They made me re-assess the situation, break the tunnel-vision I had fallen into, and made me realize that
I could try to make a run for it. I had long-range weaponry to keep the Sabre occupied - and those bombs, with those I’d just have to take my chances.

I turned, and I ran, for the nearest bubble border. I was tempted to pulse my MWD, but a bomb appeared on my overview, and drilled instinct took over and made me forget about my MWD. Target painters were playing over my hull, the bomb exploded, and took out half of my shields.

But I was clear of the bubble now, and I had a tactical bookmark near my current alignment. I punched the warp drive.

The second bomb exploded harmlessly some 300km behind my back.

I had actually escaped.

The daily downtime of the fluid router beacons was near, so while I headed to a safe spot, my opponents left the system. And it wasn’t until I examined the gun footage during the communications blackout, that I realized that I had killed that Sniggerdly Sabre.

I slept well that night.