Monday, October 29, 2012

Brief Glimpse of a Silver Lining

        "Did he just run away from us? Are we sure something scarier than us didn’t just undock as well?"
        "Well I thought of that, but there are no shuttles on scan." 

            -- Fodder, Burke - Clear Skies 2

[ You lost another Purifier?! ] Even over the comm link Eta's exasperation was palpable. [ This is now your third... ]

"Fifth!", I corrected.

[ ... fifth, whatever. Do you get them for free with your morning coffee or something? ] She took a breath. [ And since you're going to tell me anyway: How did it happen this time? ]

"Glad that you ask!" I replied happily, ignoring her little barb.

"You know that I hadn't had time for flying since the Tannakan conquest last week, so when I undocked yesterday after rearming my ship, I again went for some defensive plexing."

[ Still uncomfortable fleeting up with random others, and heading to the frontlines, eh? ]

"Yes." I admitted, with only a hint of embarrassment. "But seeing that, defensive plexing is perfect: I do something for the war effort, and it's an open invitation for hostiles to come and shoot me. And it worked out as planned: I was in my second plex, when Rakkas Kanenald in his Wolf assault ship dropped by for an exchange of pleasantries, counsel, and highly explosive ammunition."

[ Let me guess: you foolishly decided to engage with your mismatched weapons, he kicked your butt, 'good fights' were exchanged, drinks for everyone. Can I go now? ], she ended sarcastically.

"Not quite..."

[ Drat! ]

"'re right, though, in that I did engage, and started launching my ordnance as soon as I was in range. I briefly considered also putting a point on him, but piloting manually I just couldn't keep consistent range, so I didn't bother. He did land a couple of hits on me, which were easily handled by pulsing my shield booster, aaannnd ... suddenly he was in low armor and high-tailed out of the plex!

  Rakkas Kanenald> unexpected :)

were his exact words."

[ That's a first! ]

"Yup." I grinned at the memory.

[ But how... oh, he came back, right? ]

"That he did. And I knew for sure that he wouldn't have come back if he hadn't thought of a way to counter me. Plus, I saw a Myrmidon and a Falcon skulking around on scan, though in the end they didn't interfere with the fight.

"Obviously, the chances weren't very good, but I didn't want to just bail and run, so I decided to change my tactics: instead of aggressively orbiting him, I decided to try and kite him, let him come to me. Unfortunately, he had refitted from Autocannons to Artillery, and my low transversal was just what he needed.

"Plus, for some reason I had switched from my Navy Mjolnir missiles to Nova Furies - so my damage projection was far insufficient. The shield booster bought me some time, but inevitably the bleed-through from his artillery strikes tore my ship apart.

"So ... *poof*. And then in the excitement I forgot to warp my pod out. ... I could have accepted the pod ransom, but I think I was too embarrassed at that moment."

[ At least you were cheap. ]  Eta sighed. [ I hope you learned your lesson of flying this paper bag-excuse for a ship. ]

"Are you kidding? This was fun!"

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bad Judgement Nights

Night and day no longer had any larger meaning for us capsuleers, what with coming from different planets in the first place, and having our schedule dictated by the vagaries of our missions. We ate when we were hungry, we slept when we were exhausted, and we flew whenever. And doing so, we easily forgot that there were still other, less fortunate people.

I got reminded of this fact when I left my quarters to board a station-transport glider. The atmosphere in the station was quieter than usual, even for late night like that - quite an achievement for construct housing hundreds of thousands of people. Punsters were loss boisterous, nobility of the night less forthcoming. Having the system sieged by enemies did that to a normal mortal population.

At least I got the whole cabin of the glider all to myself.

And the late hour was fine by me. All my late night decisions recently had let to interesting outcomes. Not necessarily good outcomes, as two lost ships and a fierce hangover after a night of discussing abilities and loyalties with random strangers could attest, but certainly memorable ones.

Tomorrow I’d probably rue tonight’s snap decision, turning my ship around in the middle of the act of creating a safe spot in a Molden Heath system to seek out this nearest suitable station. At minimum, I’d be in the wrong kind of ship in the wrong place, with no supplies staged, no backup, no idea what was actually going on, and that would be before even talking to anyone.

The glider slowed down, automated systems guiding it into its berthing spot. With a soft *ding* reverbing from the PA, the exit hatch slid open and I exited, only a few steps away from the office entrance.

I had been here before; different station, but same corporation. There had been a crowd back then, wearied 0-sec veterans as well as fiery-eyed rookies, and I very much had felt out of place, industrialist that I was at the core. This time, it was empty.

I still felt out of place. I still could turn back.

I squared my shoulders. “No.”

Inside, a young non-com was sitting at a reception desk, behind him on the wall the imperial banner, and a placard: “Strength through Purity - Purity through Faith”.

Another thing I’d had to get used to again.

Stepping towards the desk, I gave the non-com my best smile, with a bit more bravado than I actually felt.

“Sign me up, son.”