Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Cats and Mice

The stargate was filling the field of my vision, hovering majestically against the background of stars. And if you looked closely, you could even see the two figures in spacesuits, as they duct taped down a strut which shook loose in the last activation. On the other side of the gate, the expanse of Minmatar lo-sec beckoned. Inside it, the wormhole back to our w-space system, bubbling away towards its collapse, and Lance in his Covert Ops.
“Lance, Status?”
“Still clear.” came the instant reply. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”
Ha! As if he had to ask!

What had been a quiet system an hour ago, with just one mission runner in it, had turned into a center of popularity right after we brought our goods through to hi-sec. With all people from the SILENT. alliance, one of them having his Drake named “Stargate (Ney)”, the intentions of the locals were clear, and we already had to abort our previous attempt of bringing the Orca back in. But suddenly, a few minutes ago, the lo-sec system emptied. Completely. And all SILENT. members vanished from the neighboring hi-sec system as well. Obvious, really.
On corp comms the sounds of a corp ice mining op happening in our home constellation, providing a background of normalcy, its participants too far away to render assistance.
And, in the back of my mind, teasing, a thought: We might just be able to make it.
 “Screw it,” I announced as I initiated gate jump, “let’s do this.” Not the best line in history, nor the most coherent one, but the message came across.
“Copy that.” acknowledged Lance, “Warping to WH exit.”
My Orca emerged from the gate, and its mighty engines filled the ship with their sonorous hum as I directed the navigation systems to warp to our WH entrance.
Speed at 40% … 50% … 60% …
Local plus one! Plus two!
My Orca reached warp speed just in time for me to see a Drake land on the gate grid. Simultaneously, Lance cursed.
“Shit. A battlecruiser entered the wormhole just as I arrived.”
In my pod, I nodded solemnly.
“The game is up, and we lost. Go through and head back to the POS – I’ll follow when I can.”
“Aye aye, boss.”
With an unexpected calmness, I watched the distance to warp bubble collapse tick down, knowing that I’d emerge into certain doom. At the WH entrance, a Brutix was already waiting for me, laying down tackle before I managed to align even halfway to the next celestial. Warp core stabilizers, or ECM drones, might have been able to save me, but even then it would have been a close call  – within seconds, two Drakes arrived on grid and put even more hurt on my ship.
“Nice.” Comms garbled from the WH interference, Lance still managed to sound almost admiring. “Two were already waiting here - the Orca would have never made it.”
Escape pods darted away from my Orca’s belly, taking the crew to safety, as my Orca’s structure rapidly ceased to exist. As I warped my pod back into CONCORDs protective arms, I complimented the attackers in Local for their well executed trap, my mistakes notwithstanding. The ensuing short, but surprisingly pleasant chat revealed just how much effort SILENT had put into this trap: they had scanned out our WH entrance right when we first showed up, and then placed multiple scouts in the neighboring systems.

All this effort, just for me? Awww - that’s worth losing a fully fitted and rigged Orca!

...on second thought, maybe not.

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