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.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back to the Grind

“Stupid. Stupid Stupid! STUPID!”, I cursed under my breath while giving the commands to fire up the warp drive and move the ship away from this location. Outside, another beam from a laser battery danced over my ship, taking out more large chunks of my armor.

“What? What did I do?”, asked Sio over comms - my cursing apparently had made it out after all.

“Nothing!”, I replied, wishing my ship to accelerate faster. “It’s what _I_ did!”

War, it is said, is boredom punctuated by sheer terror. Well, whoever said it obviously hadn’t had tried their hands at supplying a POS in w-space, otherwise they’d have added adjectives like ‘endless’ and ‘defenseless’ to it. Spoiled, all of them.

It had been only a few weeks since our little altercation with our lo-sec POS next door, and since then we had been living in constant anticipation of our neighbouring ‘landlords’ dropping the hammer on us. But as days passed by with nothing happening, we had to park our freshly insured PvP ships back in our hangars, and getting back to keeping the alliance humming. Specifically, resupplying our w-space POS which had been cut off for quite some time now.

Not that we were lacking for help: Sio and Keilidh were eager and able to help, so I contracted them the latest set of bookmarks and told them to come out in their haulers.

Of course I forgot that both were new to the corp and thus not accustomed to our w-space operation.

Of course I forgot to tell them that there was an occupied Cl.3 systems between ‘our’ w-space system and Empire.

Of course I forgot to tell them that some of the bookmarks were observation posts, where I’d be watching the Cl.3 POSes from my CovOps.

And definitely I had forgotten to move away from the observation warp-ins, as it is my usual custom.

As my ship reached warp speeds, away from the POS and Sio’s fateful pod, the POSes battery lit up once more, sending a last greeting my way, rocking my ship violently.

“Lance?”, I called out on comms to our resident miner. “How far are you with the Hulks?”

“I just dropped off the last one.”, came the crisp reply. “Why?”

“I need you to get your Helios and take over POS scouting for me.”. Embarrassment crept into my voice. “I need to go and get a new ship.”