Archive for November, 2010

Bomb!

In his last “Gooder EvE” post Rixx Javix discussed the idea of supplementing the role of bombs in the game. He brings us the idea of the “Depth Charge”, “Bumper Bomb” and “Scrambler” (for details visit this post!).
Taking up his invite to bring more ideas and thoughts to the table I present the following:
The stealth bomber is the ultimate offensive covert ship, using its oversized weapon systems and dumb missile launcher to perform quick and graceful execution upon its foes, why not add into its arsenal the ability to bring the bait in small bomb-sized form?
The Decoy comes in two flavours both of which are contraband in high sec and are configured to a ship type of your choice while docked in any station with a repair facility:
Scanner Decoy –This bomb presents a cosmic signature exactly like the vessel of your choosing. Uses might include using the bomb to confuse and disrupt enemy probers, or present a juicy target to a foolish enemy who might rush head first into a nest of bombers. Once on grid, however, the overview scanner will easily determine the correct source of the signals spoiling your fun.
Overview Decoy ­– The Overview decoy is able to present a false target to localised scanners like the overview. This Electronic warfare weapon is a cluster of targeted sensors which split after launch and continue traveling on a straight course, broadcasting the signal of 7 enemies. The signal presents the correct icon and ship name as well as being programed with a random name and history sourced from a hack of CONCORDS database. Of course the signal will not fool a ships scanner or the MK1 eyeball, but it is one more item of confusion to add to a battle. Hiding your fleet inside fake targets or pretending to be a far superior force might just save your pilots bacon.

The Other Other Other White Meat

Since I became embroiled in the conflicts of Capsulars I have come to the realisation that there are three types of kills. Each has its own elations, a variance in how they make you feel, much in the same way a fine steak sends different sensations through you to a Star Cake. To continue the food analogy I am not a gourmet yet, but my pallet is improving, and a few days ago I got to enjoy the final missing flavor of death.
Here I will go against the narrative norm, in order to explain the types of kill in the order I wish to, I must tell you my recent experiences in reverse order, I hope you will humor me.
Allow me to set the scene of last night, a long night of battleships killing offline POS towers and Mods in 0.0, a little excitement had punctuated the night when a 30 man shield Battlecruiser gang jumped into us on a gate and was swiftly disintegrated by our fleet. The short but (for us) sweet engagement saw targets popping as fast as you could lock them and cycle the guns once. Fate found us finally sitting on a gate with reports of an enemy fleet (counts at this stage were confusing, fluctuating from 50 to 150 in number) in the next system. Not wanting to go home without engaging, we begun to prepare for battle. First order was to get off the gate, burning in the direction of an out-gate to get out from underneath the enemy when they jumped in. This would force the enemy tacklers to burn towards us at speed, away from their slow moving fleet in order to pin us down and stop us warping away before they could kill us. Just as we got to around the correct distance the Reds jumped in, and the fight begun in earnest. As usual I found myself watching the broadcasts of each primary target and setting my 8 Pulse Lasers to gouge into defenses, while assigning my drones to any lighter ships which dared come close to attempt to tackle us. Suddenly alarms were blaring, shields were down and armor was rapidly dropping. Thankfully I was already aligned to our warp out point at full speed and with no enemy tackle using any form of warp core disruption on me; it was a simple matter of engaging the warp drive to remove me from the field and well out of targeting range. Once I landed at the other end of warp I swung the slow battleship around and warped back into the fray. On arrival back in the fight I called for repairs while re-aligning to the out-gate and cycling targets and guns as swiftly as I could. At this point we were clearly outnumbered by the enemy fleet, however our swift work in destroying the enemies tackle and by deciding our own range of engagement we had managed to pull a good fight out of the situation. However time and numbers were not on our side, with the enemy fleet significantly bloodied and their tackle all but annihilated the order was given to exit the field. We began to flee with the enemy fleet gnashing at our heels at every jump. This kind of situation gets the adrenaline rushing every time, at each gate it’s a race for survival; coming into the system, coaxing the slow ship around to face the exit gate, bringing your speed up to a clear 75% before engaging the warp drive, and finally lurching away from the gate into safety, only to repeat it after jumping into the next system. All the while if a single enemy interceptor (which can do all of the above in around 7 seconds as opposed to the 20-30 it takes a battleship) catches up with us and launches a warp disruption sphere you can kiss good bye to any hope of entering warp while inside the sphere of its influence. Thankfully this only happened once and I was lucky enough to be right at the edge of the bubble; able to quickly adjust course using a microwarp drive to get clear and restart the warp sequence, escaping just as the enemy arrived. For me this was supreme luck, for the Reds were now too busy destroying those not so lucky to give me further chase. A few more jumps and I was safe, warping to a friendly POS, and titan jumping to home.
This was a Fleet kill, tens to hundreds of us against similar numbers of enemy forces. You experience helplessness as you place your trust in the FC whom you must follow without question, in exchange to being part of a bigger picture. Fear of the death that can come in seconds if the enemy fleet concentrates fire upon you, while enjoying doing the same to an enemy. This is a banquet of death.
The day before this night of gorging, I had been involved in another fleet fight, again aimed at provoking the enemy; but significantly less successful. The fleet was idling, gnawing on Station Service modules in boredom while waiting for a target to come out of reinforced mode. One of my oldest friends (Arian Blade) was with me and we were passing the time with idle talk on a private channel, while another old friend (Lore Solo) was making his way to join us in a stealth bomber. Suddenly it got interesting as Lore arrived in our system and announced that a “Hurricane” Battlecruiser and “Merlin” Frigate were sitting on a gate about to jump out. As we were bored with chewing on a target far larger than us, myself and Arian immediately warped away from the fleet to see if we could catch the enemy ships and devour them instead. We arrived on the gate and followed the enemy ships into the next system. I should at this point detail our ships; as previously mentioned Lore was in a “Manticore” Stealth bomber, Arian was in a Hurricane and I was zipping about in an “Crow” Interceptor. Arriving in the next system, I found myself right next to the enemy Hurricane, and trusting my friends to come to my aid if things went wrong, kicked every module on and begun hurtling into an orbit around it, scrambling his warp core and stopping him from warping away. This was a dangerous move, Interceptors rely on speed to move faster than enemy guns can track them, but Hurricanes can be set up especially to combat a speed tanking ship. Luckily for me this Hurricane was not, and my 8k orbit at 4km/s velocity meant that his guns never scored a single hit on me. My friends quickly arrived on the scene and begun applying DPS to the Hurricane (the Merlin got away) and with only two damage dealers the ship lasted a good 20 seconds before he was forcefully ejected. My ships specialised targeting computer also managed to lock down his escape capsule before it could for fill its purpose, and his body was swiftly exposed to the vacuum of space. Pop.
This was a Small Group Kill, comrade of a small group you most likely know well and trust. Fear that your smaller group might be falling for a trap of a larger group. Working as a team to destroy others and having a clear and respected say in the tactics you use. This intimate social meal, designed to bring a group together through a mutual experience of another’s death.
Finally in the narrative, and firstly chronologically I experienced the final type of kill that until now had remained elusively un-tasted by me. Our alliance has formally declared war on the enemy Alliance through CONCORD (law enforcement agency). This means that in exchange for a vast fee paid to CONCORD, we are legally allowed to kill enemy combatants in High Security (0.5 or above) space, where any acts of aggression would bring a CONCORD fleet down upon you to destroy your ship in an instant. I, in a rare moment of downtime, had decided to leave our low-sec staging system and travel to an old haunt nearby. Here I planned to pick up a Stealth Bomber, mothballed a few months ago, in order to bring it into our staging system for use in the war. While traveling to my destination in my Pod I passed an Industrial Hauler belonging to the enemy using his auto pilot to move across space. Auto Pilot allows your Navicomp to handle all the needed commands along a pre-designated route. However for safety it will never warp you to within immediate jump rage of a gate like a capsular would, instead it arrives 10km off of the gate and engages sub warp engines to bring the ship within jump range. This is ok for the lazy when they are sure of safety in a fast moving ship or similar. But for a slow moving Hauler designed for cargo space and not speed, during a time when enemy ships can engage without fear of death by CONCORD it’s a death trap. Unfortunately this opportunity was lost to me in a weaponless pod, so I continued the 10 more jumps to my Stealth Bomber, dusted it off, engaged the primers and begun the journey back. A few jumps out and I ran into the hauler again, slow boating the 10km towards the gate, not believing my luck I double checked that I could shoot him while maneuvering (under cloak) closer to the target. Confirmation of legality it received, I uncloak, lock the hauler, engage the target painter and throw my first volley of Torpedoes at it. As it’s too far away from the gate to jump, and warping out to another celestial would take too long, I don’t even need to scramble his warp drive, hest trapped by his own choices. As the second volley clears the tubes, the first impacts and it removes the ships shields along with half its armor, the next finishes the job, puncturing the hull and detonating in a cargo hold, severing the ship fatally. Unfortunately the pod escapes before I can lock it down so quickly grabbing what few modules survive the explosion I warp away to safety before any more combatants can execute vengeance upon me.
This is the Solo kill, intimacy not with friends but with the enemy, sometimes on even terms, sometimes a foredawn conclusion, but always intimate. Locked in immortal combat, fearing that he knows something you don’t counterbalanced with joy at the possibility of success born of your efforts alone.
All three kills bring joy and horror depending on your place in the ritual, all contain fear from all parties, all are what a combat capsular lives and dies for. Each has its own flavor of death, which is potent in all its forms. Some pilots have a taste for one of them; others like me are less discerning. But over the past three days I have enjoyed a three course meal of destruction, but for all of us the tables can always turn, perhaps next time I will be the meal.

Bubble Armada

As the Bubble came up I knew I was screwed, the communications node in my ear relayed the cut short screams of those whose fate I was soon to share. As the fifteen bombs exploded around me I felt their shrapnel pierce the hull, seeking my soft body inside its shell. But I start too late in the story, this is the conclusion not the beginning.
What was I in? Ah yes; it was my first fleet in the Apocalypse. A while ago I decided that I should train into Amarr Battleships as a stark contrast to my current Caldari only upbringing. It would allow me the choice of either the Caldari’s high tech shielding systems or Amarr’s Thick Armour Plating; Caldari Missiles or Amarr coherent light weapons when picking ships to fly. For two hundred days I studied and trained until I was happy I could fly the sleek golden hulls. I had completed enough training to be confident in my skills at flying the Battleships, but I was still working on the second tech level of guns to add to my lethal armaments. At this point in time, I owned three Amarr Fleet battleships; an Armageddon I had flown a few times in semi serious combat, a long range tachyon beam laser fitted Apocalypse, and a brand spanking new Apocalypse for an experimental build. You see I had received a new fitting suggestion for an Apocalypse which would deliver high damage at low to medium range using Mega Modulated Pulse Lasers around half an hour before a huge fleet was due to form up, and I desperately wanted to try it out. Why two separate Apocalypses? Why not simply switch the fitting on a single hull?
This is because of the differences in the two systems: Tachyon Beam Lasers (TBL) uses a massive amount of power grid in order to hit targets at long range distances. However because they are required to perform precise targeted hits at ranges over the norm, their movement gyros are fine tuned to delicate movements. The result of this is a system with massive range and little to no tracking speed making it unable to move fast enough to hit targets at closer range (where their speed means the turret must move faster to point at it). Although this is great for a sniper situation, when the enemy manages to close the distance to you and you can no longer hit them due to transversal speed and your low (around 0.013) tracking speed, you are in trouble. The answer, as the new build I had received suggested, is to use Mega Modulated Pulse Lasers (MMPL) which are designed to hit closer targets and thus have a better tracking (around 0.35) but extend the range of these weapons to at least a fraction of a TBL range while maintaining its usual tracking. This is done using Tracking Enhancers in the low power slots, Tracking Computers and Tracking Scripts in the mid power slots and rigging Energy Locus systems. With all of these your MMPLs can achieve a range of 100km while keeping the higher tracking speed. However where as in a TBL fit Apocalypse you are forced to fit at least a few Energy Grid riggings to fit them, on a MMPL Apocalypse this is a waste, as the guns fit perfectly with the standard power grid, and rigging is better used for extra armour or indeed getting extra gun range. As a result using a single Apocalypse for both fits you would be forced to destroy the rigs each time you changed fitting, wasting 60 or 90 million ISK, roughly the value of a new ship.
So there I was buying and fitting an Apocalypse 30 minutes before a fleet was due to form up 3 jumps from my current location in ZLZ, rushing to do so in time to join in the action. On reflection I should have remembered one of the many mantras of the experienced Pod Pilot: “Never rush for anything”. Although I had made the right choice in purchasing a new ship for a new fitting, I had not remembered to purchase insurance on it.
So where was I? The fleet had moved to the BND-16 Solar system to remove the heavy burden of owning a station and its home system from Solar Fleet Alliance. The station had already been knocked into armour by a previous fleet before its reactors, fuelled by a stockpile of strontium, had kicked in straining to place an impenetrable shield to stretch the stations ownership out for a good extra 24 hours. It was a simple matter of time however, the reactors could not last forever and scans of its slowly failing systems told us exactly when it would buckle under its own weight and allow us to finish its destruction; and that time was now. The journey to the station had been slow but un eventful, a titan bridge into a neighbouring system and a single real space jump into the system where the large fleet quickly destroyed the last of the stations armour plates and hull until the damage was so heavy the reactors shut down. Once this was done the standard virus was uploaded to the station and its ownership transferred to our allies. All that remained was to destroy the Territory Claim Unit (a kind of flag in space claiming ownership) and thus remove the enemies claim on the system total to make way for our own. Easy, simple, safe. This was completed with haste and we were informed that we would now have to perform the exact selfsame actions in BWF-ZZ, claiming its station and destroying the TCU. The Titan had even moved into BND-16 at a safe POS to jump us directly to a system next door to our target.
Arriving in the new target system we were warned that a Stealth Bomber fleet was around, I dismissed this warning as my well armoured Battleship should be able withstand a few bombs rattling off its plates. The fleet begun its warp to the station to once again remove it from the hands of the enemy, and upon landing the FC called out the usual “de-blob guys, MWDs on and de-blob” ordering us to activate our capacitor hungry micro warp drive and move our ships quickly apart so the enemy bombers could only target a portion of our fleet with a single run. However we could not move quickly enough. Almost immediately after the order was given new targets begun appearing on my overview. One, three, five… lots of enemy Hound and Nemesis Class Stealth bombers appeared from nowhere and released their deadly cargo. The space was thick around the fleet with bombs and Bombers warping out of their bombing run to safety. Just as we begun evasive maneuvers to get away into warp, that avenue of escape was removed. In the confusion one of the fleets Heavy interdictors decided to try and trap the fleeing enemy bombers by putting up his interdiction generator. Unfortunately he was nowhere near the enemy bombers, and was instead in the centre of our fleet. As the crackling blue bubble generated by the interdictor expanded around the fleet, its spacial distortion unbalancing our warp drives, I knew there was no escaping the bombs via warp.
The dumb unguided bombs quickly covered the 30km from launch to detonation point, directly in the centre of our trapped fleet. I was dumb struck this was not just a “bomber fleet” This was an armada, I didn’t count how many there were, but with an incompetent (or maybe even malicious) interdictor, I knew there was enough.
So here we are, at the conclusion I started with. My alliance friends cry piercing my ear, as his Megathrons reactor goes critical and he is forcibly ejected from his ship. The bombs exploding in a cacophony of light, the shrill scream of the shields failing, and the dull rumbles shaking my very core as the armour was reduced to slag. Finally the sharp short pings of shrapnel penetrating the hull of my ship. I mentally and physically tensed for ejection, trying to not cry out, and hoping to be spared the destruction of my pod. Then it stopped, despite the panicked chatter of the survivors of the fleet in my ears, I heard silence. In a stupor I reviewed my damage report. Shield power 0%, armour plating systems 0%, hull integrity 75%; multiple minor Hull breaches, Damage in rear drive bay, engine 4 venting plasma and oxygen into space, Power-core damaged but stable. Feeling naked without armour between me and space, I broadcasted an emergency repairs request and after a while a fleet logistics ship begun spraying me with nanites which begun the work of re-synthesising the armour plates, unfortunately unable to repair any of my internal or hull systems. While waiting I had set myself to the job we were here to do, loading Multifrequency crystals into my weapons focusing slot, I began my barrage of light on the station. By the time the enemy bombers had re-armed and returned, the nanite spray had fully repaired my armour and my shield systems were back to 90%. I winced as they appeared, but it was of little threat, the fleet was now spread out all around the station and the bombs were hitting a sector far away from me. Still venting flames from the rear drive pod I dedicated myself to avenging my fallen alliance mate. Switching to long range crystals (A radio wave focus crystal) I was ready the next time the bombers appeared, as were our interdictors. As the bombers appeared the dictors released their disruption bubbles around them and some of the Bombers were trapped, fragile as glass cannons for us to destroy. By the time we had finished the station we had managed to trap and destroy 7 of the Bombers and the system was ours. Docking in the newly friendly station I explained to the ‘ground crew’ my agreement of their aesthetical appreciation of fire, but expressed the need to add the proviso “not out the side of my fucking ship”. Systems repaired we continued on our roam.
We went on to destroy a large Amarr POS and disintegrate its small defence force, a pair of Megathrons and an Apocalypse, before returning from what had been a 3 hour roam to the safety of my home system, LS-JEP. Once again returning my pod to its station side nest, I started browsing the books I had loaded into my neural storage on trajectory Analysis, next time fewer bombers would escape.

Immortal

I guess after taking you with me into three battles I should really introduce myself. My name is Harkconnan, Hark for short, I am a Caldari Female and I have been Immortal for three years.
Before my transcendence I was a simple Caldari Navy Captain, Captaining a Scorpion Class Battleship for the Military attempting to survive as most mortals do in an ever changing universe. I would love to tell you I was some kind of romantic, in love with the stars, yearning to cruise the universe forever, bathing in the light of a million suns, but I wasn’t. I wish I could say that I was a duty bound soldier submitting myself to immortality for the good of others, but that’s a lie. I was just another mortal, struggling for life, and finding more of it than I bargained for. As with all Star ship Captains once every 10 years of service I returned to Caldari Prime, my nations home planet for my Service Analysis; it was here my ascension began. Officially these tests were a simple checkpoint, ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of those trusted with the States most war machines, but as with everything in the Caldari State, eyes watched. Some eyes were looking for new Marshals, tacticians and strategists; Some even watched for investments and bets or puppets, but the ones hardest to spot, the ones clouded in darkness, were watching for something all the more dangerous. These were the eyes watching me.
My destination wasn’t immediately obvious after my tests, although I knew something had changed. My ship and crew were moved into a special division, dealing with more… delicate situations, here even I was aware, the eyes watched closer. Two standard years later I was ordered away from my ship for a series of “check-ups” due to “anomalies” found in my medical history. At the end of a thorough, rigorous and invasive medical checkup, lasting over a month, the truth emerged.
Capsules are notoriously independent from their birth states, performing tasks for whomever they wished, changing allegiances on a whim, most even joining vast alliances independent to any of the Empires in New Eden. Even the most loyal servants of an Empire realise its insignificance when faced with immortality. Yet the Caldari State, like all the Empires had become reliant on the skills of Capsulars to survive. Some missions were simply beyond a mortal Pilot, some tasks were too sick for a human Captain. With a need for a Capsulars skills, yet unable to rely on their loyalty, the Caldari approached the problem as they did every other issue; as a businessman. The theory was simple, find Navy personnel with the rare skills and aptitude to survive the encapsulation and offer to perform the transference from man to demigod, for the price of a year’s loyalty biologically enforced.
I had become a target; my mind was porous enough for the learning, my body suitable for the implants and modification, my personality hardy enough for the strains of immortality, I could be a capsuler. The offer was simple, a year of absolute loyalty on threat of death in exchange for immortality, I would even be paid for my trouble. So there I was, on the brink of transcendence, offered immortality by my masters the only price was one final year of service, service I already chose to give them any way. It seemed too good to be true, and it was, I didn’t know the true price and so I accepted.
Ascension sounds like a beautiful thing, at the time, in my human flesh, my preconceptions brought images of angels, white light energy and beauty with the word. I think that’s why they called the operations an ascension or transcendence; it was technically true, and covered the gruesome reality in a cloak of false hope. My ‘ascension’ took two years. I was dissected and studied, literally each part of my human shell removed, piece by piece and studied in the closest way. First my limbs were amputated and studied (in thirds: feet, shin, thigh; hand, forearm, shoulder). Then my core was dissected and I was ‘installed’ in a specialist room, my flesh impaled on apparatus which would facilitate this living autopsy; holding the slowly dwindling organic parts and connecting me to the mechanical replacements. There was never any pain, no feelings at all, just endless days of numbness watching my body slowly disappear, listening to the hum hiss and slosh of machines keeping me alive and force-fed training and knowledge I would later need. Eventually I came to enjoy each removal, seeing my remaining body parts as barriers between me and the end. A great irony descended on me, the very process which would make me immortal, also made me want to die. Finally I was finished, I remember the day they removed my spinal cord (already deprived of its ribs, pelvis and contents long ago). I had been given the day off from the normal learning projections and lectures, and my neural implants were connected instead to the rooms cameras, I watched with pleasure as the last of my body was severed, and thanked the surgeon with my electronic voice (to replace voice box, jaw and tongue) once the buzz of the saw had died. I was relieved of my body, all that remained was to flay my skull ( half day operation at best) and perform the final scan, a lethal neural probe using Jovian technology to map my very consciousness. Indeed the very next day I received my wish and my mortal body died, the brain scan destroying my neural pathways; severing each neural node in a searing white heat.
For me it was instant, in reality it took almost 24 hours for all the data which had been collected to be fed into the cloning vat and for the blank generic clone to be given a retroviruse to form my recorded mortal shell, then my consciousness was loaded into its neural pathways. Some clerics and religious zealots will tell you that although the procedure takes an exact copy of your physical body, it cannot copy the soul, making Capsulars walking talking thinking shells. They may well be true, but I will tell you now, I felt no loss. When I awoke in the gelatinous liquid sustaining the clone I mistakenly felt immortal, returning to a full flesh body after two years of slowly being crippled was a shock to the mind. But I was no God yet, that had been only preparation and once I had been extracted from the vat I spent the next months being acclimatised to my pod; this was when I was truly made immortal.
The next stages were if anything more horrifying than the procedure to get me this far. My clone’s body was identical to my mortal shell, except for its wetware interfaces; plugs and ports covered key nerve clusters and the back of my skull. My body had been broken and mended and now it was my minds turn. To begin with I was simply put into the pod for increasing periods of time. The pod itself was around the size of a small room, say a hotel room in width, two stories high and shaped like an egg. Its outer shell crammed with sophisticated technology making the actual living space just large enough to accommodate a single human body in a semi foetal position, enough room to move, not enough to stretch. Filled with gelatinous ambiotic fluid it was claustrophobic horror to spend hours suspended in its confines (it’s funny how after so long I now regard it as a place of comfort and safety, an artificial womb almost).
At this stage my mind was twisted, two years literally out of body, and now shoved day after day into a confined space and left, alone and dark inside sometimes for weeks at a time. I was physically fit, but unable to look after myself mentally. In a state of self imposed vegetation, unable to eat, sleep or function without mechanical, medical or human aid. It was from this broken state that I was rebuilt into a god.
After once again dumping my limp unresisting body into the fluid filled pod, they switched it on for the first time. Cables snaked from the walls in my liquid cell seeking their counterparts on my body. Each connecting and removing that part of my body from my consciousness, until the last cables clicked one by one into my spine and my vision went. When it returned I was no longer staring at the inside of the pod. I was hovering in mid air behind the docking bay in which my training pod was housed. The interface so instant and intuitive that I instantly knew the whole of the holo-net was at my disposal at a thought. I could view State records on any person, system or corporation. I could look at a virtual map of the universe and plot a course through its gates; system to system in seconds. I could communicate faster than light with others, through text and speech. The horrors that had befallen my body before were no longer a worry, for I had a new body far more powerful and intelligent. It was like a drug, out of the pod I was once more an active self aware animal, but I only kept myself alive ready for my next trip in.
The wonder of my new life increased when they unlocked the systems to allow me to enter a ship. The states cheap and mass produced training ship, the Ibis, though the lowest ship in a Capsulars arsenal, was a wonder to use. As my pod slotted into it for the first time and the pod paired its limited sensors with the ship for the first time it was an ecstasy. All my senses expanded, the ship’s hull was my skin, its probes my eyes. But now as well as engines and thrusters I had other items at my disposal. For the moment they placed Civilian grade turrets and mining lasers on my hulls standardised slots, allowing me to get used to their control, but I knew that soon I would be able to plug and change these for more powerful weapons as easily as a human changed clothes. It didn’t take long to get used to the civilian weapons, and soon I was allowed my first flight. Leaving the station for the first time I felt the full extent of my true power. My weak human flesh fitted inside a life giving pod, inside a death dealing hull, like some sick Matryoshka doll. Closely monitored for signs of insanity caused by the process I had undergone I was allowed to spend the last months of my ascension soaring through the stars, I did not care that they watched. I was a capsuler, I was a god.
My year in service to the Caldari Navy in payment for my transcendence past quickly. The Navy required me to perform the dirty tasks, things too disgusting or tricky for a mere human body to perform. By the end of the year my neural implants had allowed me to upload and learn books of vast knowledge, learning to control bigger ships, larger weapons systems, until before long I was back in a battleship class ship, this time instead of commanding a crew of ten thousand, I commanded her alone, with a few thousand crew detached from me to perform simple maintenance. My final missions for the Navy required me to use these ships to destroy other human commanded ships; fleets of them would battle me and a handful of similarly indebted Capsulars, each exploding ship snuffing out ten thousand souls. Five of us could easily destroy 10 or more battleships with all their accompanying smaller class ships, Battlecruisers, Cruisers and frigates were no threat to us. Occasionally we would be overwhelmed, our ships disintegrated around us by concentrated fire, and even rarer our pods breached by laser, or missile fire. But we were immortal, in the moments before death an implant in our brain performed another lethal scan of our mind, and transmitted it instantly to a new clone waiting for us. We would return with vengeance, killing those who dared to so inconvenience us.
Don’t misjudge me on the destruction I caused, it was rarely done in anger. But we were drunk with power. We told ourselves we understood the bigger picture, if destroying an outpost in space killed a million lives to destroy information which might spark off the Caldari – Gelentte war again; it was worth it to save millions who might die in the war. We thought being immortal gave us the ability to judge and value a human life, and the right to take it too in order to shape the infinite future which we alone would see.
After a year I had grown closer to my companions and we began to feel distain for our Caldari masters. A few months after our debt ended we begun to remove ourselves from the politics of man. We joined a corporation of other Capsulars. The corporation didn’t care about the Empires squabbles; they were out to carve their own Empire. We took space and owned entire solar systems, living out of stations and in our ships at times, we fought not the inconsequential wars of man, but the never ending fight of a Capsular. Against other immortals we stood on equal ground, time and time again shown that we were not beyond destruction, only beyond death. The realisation that others were as powerful, if not more so than us, was humbling. We began to become individuals again no longer Gods, but immortal humans with compassion, wants and needs. We had values we would fight for and wants we would happily be reborn for, morals we would stand for. We strove now for our own space, for money and power; the same as any other human, the only difference? Our struggle will last forever.
I guess after taking you with me into three battles I should really introduce myself. My name is Harkconnan, Hark for short, I am a Caldari Female and I have been Immortal for three years.
Before my transcendence I was a simple Caldari Navy Captain, Captaining a Scorpion Class Battleship for the Military attempting to survive as most mortals do in an ever changing universe. I would love to tell you I was some kind of romantic, in love with the stars, yearning to cruise the universe forever, bathing in the light of a million suns, but I wasn’t. I wish I could say that I was a duty bound soldier submitting myself to immortality for the good of others, but that’s a lie. I was just another mortal, struggling for life, and finding more of it than I bargained for. As with all Star ship Captains once every 10 years of service I returned to Caldari Prime, my nations home planet for my Service Analysis; it was here my ascension began. Officially these tests were a simple checkpoint, ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of those trusted with the States most war machines, but as with everything in the Caldari State, eyes watched. Some eyes were looking for new Marshals, tacticians and strategists; Some even watched for investments and bets or puppets, but the ones hardest to spot, the ones clouded in darkness, were watching for something all the more dangerous. These were the eyes watching me.
My destination wasn’t immediately obvious after my tests, although I knew something had changed. My ship and crew were moved into a special division, dealing with more… delicate situations, here even I was aware, the eyes watched closer. Two standard years later I was ordered away from my ship for a series of “check-ups” due to “anomalies” found in my medical history. At the end of a thorough, rigorous and invasive medical checkup, lasting over a month, the truth emerged.
Capsules are notoriously independent from their birth states, performing tasks for whomever they wished, changing allegiances on a whim, most even joining vast alliances independent to any of the Empires in New Eden. Even the most loyal servants of an Empire realise its insignificance when faced with immortality. Yet the Caldari State, like all the Empires had become reliant on the skills of Capsulars to survive. Some missions were simply beyond a mortal Pilot, some tasks were too sick for a human Captain. With a need for a Capsulars skills, yet unable to rely on their loyalty, the Caldari approached the problem as they did every other issue; as a businessman. The theory was simple, find Navy personnel with the rare skills and aptitude to survive the encapsulation and offer to perform the transference from man to demigod, for the price of a year’s loyalty biologically enforced.
I had become a target; my mind was porous enough for the learning, my body suitable for the implants and modification, my personality hardy enough for the strains of immortality, I could be a capsuler. The offer was simple, a year of absolute loyalty on threat of death in exchange for immortality, I would even be paid for my trouble. So there I was, on the brink of transcendence, offered immortality by my masters the only price was one final year of service, service I already chose to give them any way. It seemed too good to be true, and it was, I didn’t know the true price and so I accepted.
Ascension sounds like a beautiful thing, at the time, in my human flesh, my preconceptions brought images of angels, white light energy and beauty with the word. I think that’s why they called the operations an ascension or transcendence; it was technically true, and covered the gruesome reality in a cloak of false hope. My ‘ascension’ took two years. I was dissected and studied, literally each part of my human shell removed, piece by piece and studied in the closest way. First my limbs were amputated and studied (in thirds: feet, shin, thigh; hand, forearm, shoulder). Then my core was dissected and I was ‘installed’ in a specialist room, my flesh impaled on apparatus which would facilitate this living autopsy; holding the slowly dwindling organic parts and connecting me to the mechanical replacements. There was never any pain, no feelings at all, just endless days of numbness watching my body slowly disappear, listening to the hum hiss and slosh of machines keeping me alive and force-fed training and knowledge I would later need. Eventually I came to enjoy each removal, seeing my remaining body parts as barriers between me and the end. A great irony descended on me, the very process which would make me immortal, also made me want to die. Finally I was finished, I remember the day they removed my spinal cord (already deprived of its ribs, pelvis and contents long ago). I had been given the day off from the normal learning projections and lectures, and my neural implants were connected instead to the rooms cameras, I watched with pleasure as the last of my body was severed, and thanked the surgeon with my electronic voice (to replace voice box, jaw and tongue) once the buzz of the saw had died. I was relieved of my body, all that remained was to flay my skull ( half day operation at best) and perform the final scan, a lethal neural probe using Jovian technology to map my very consciousness. Indeed the very next day I received my wish and my mortal body died, the brain scan destroying my neural pathways; severing each neural node in a searing white heat.
For me it was instant, in reality it took almost 24 hours for all the data which had been collected to be fed into the cloning vat and for the blank generic clone to be given a retroviruse to form my recorded mortal shell, then my consciousness was loaded into its neural pathways. Some clerics and religious zealots will tell you that although the procedure takes an exact copy of your physical body, it cannot copy the soul, making Capsulars walking talking thinking shells. They may well be true, but I will tell you now, I felt no loss. When I awoke in the gelatinous liquid sustaining the clone I mistakenly felt immortal, returning to a full flesh body after two years of slowly being crippled was a shock to the mind. But I was no God yet, that had been only preparation and once I had been extracted from the vat I spent the next months being acclimatised to my pod; this was when I was truly made immortal.
The next stages were if anything more horrifying than the procedure to get me this far. My clone’s body was identical to my mortal shell, except for its wetware interfaces; plugs and ports covered key nerve clusters and the back of my skull. My body had been broken and mended and now it was my minds turn. To begin with I was simply put into the pod for increasing periods of time. The pod itself was around the size of a small room, say a hotel room in width, two stories high and shaped like an egg. Its outer shell crammed with sophisticated technology making the actual living space just large enough to accommodate a single human body in a semi foetal position, enough room to move, not enough to stretch. Filled with gelatinous ambiotic fluid it was claustrophobic horror to spend hours suspended in its confines (it’s funny how after so long I now regard it as a place of comfort and safety, an artificial womb almost).
At this stage my mind was twisted, two years literally out of body, and now shoved day after day into a confined space and left, alone and dark inside sometimes for weeks at a time. I was physically fit, but unable to look after myself mentally. In a state of self imposed vegetation, unable to eat, sleep or function without mechanical, medical or human aid. It was from this broken state that I was rebuilt into a god.
After once again dumping my limp unresisting body into the fluid filled pod, they switched it on for the first time. Cables snaked from the walls in my liquid cell seeking their counterparts on my body. Each connecting and removing that part of my body from my consciousness, until the last cables clicked one by one into my spine and my vision went. When it returned I was no longer staring at the inside of the pod. I was hovering in mid air behind the docking bay in which my training pod was housed. The interface so instant and intuitive that I instantly knew the whole of the holo-net was at my disposal at a thought. I could view State records on any person, system or corporation. I could look at a virtual map of the universe and plot a course through its gates; system to system in seconds. I could communicate faster than light with others, through text and speech. The horrors that had befallen my body before were no longer a worry, for I had a new body far more powerful and intelligent. It was like a drug, out of the pod I was once more an active self aware animal, but I only kept myself alive ready for my next trip in.
The wonder of my new life increased when they unlocked the systems to allow me to enter a ship. The states cheap and mass produced training ship, the Ibis, though the lowest ship in a Capsulars arsenal, was a wonder to use. As my pod slotted into it for the first time and the pod paired its limited sensors with the ship for the first time it was an ecstasy. All my senses expanded, the ship’s hull was my skin, its probes my eyes. But now as well as engines and thrusters I had other items at my disposal. For the moment they placed Civilian grade turrets and mining lasers on my hulls standardised slots, allowing me to get used to their control, but I knew that soon I would be able to plug and change these for more powerful weapons as easily as a human changed clothes. It didn’t take long to get used to the civilian weapons, and soon I was allowed my first flight. Leaving the station for the first time I felt the full extent of my true power. My weak human flesh fitted inside a life giving pod, inside a death dealing hull, like some sick Matryoshka doll. Closely monitored for signs of insanity caused by the process I had undergone I was allowed to spend the last months of my ascension soaring through the stars, I did not care that they watched. I was a capsuler, I was a god.
My year in service to the Caldari Navy in payment for my transcendence past quickly. The Navy required me to perform the dirty tasks, things too disgusting or tricky for a mere human body to perform. By the end of the year my neural implants had allowed me to upload and learn books of vast knowledge, learning to control bigger ships, larger weapons systems, until before long I was back in a battleship class ship, this time instead of commanding a crew of ten thousand, I commanded her alone, with a few thousand crew detached from me to perform simple maintenance. My final missions for the Navy required me to use these ships to destroy other human commanded ships; fleets of them would battle me and a handful of similarly indebted Capsulars, each exploding ship snuffing out ten thousand souls. Five of us could easily destroy 10 or more battleships with all their accompanying smaller class ships, Battlecruisers, Cruisers and frigates were no threat to us. Occasionally we would be overwhelmed, our ships disintegrated around us by concentrated fire, and even rarer our pods breached by laser, or missile fire. But we were immortal, in the moments before death an implant in our brain performed another lethal scan of our mind, and transmitted it instantly to a new clone waiting for us. We would return with vengeance, killing those who dared to so inconvenience us.
Don’t misjudge me on the destruction I caused, it was rarely done in anger. But we were drunk with power. We told ourselves we understood the bigger picture, if destroying an outpost in space killed a million lives to destroy information which might spark off the Caldari – Gelentte war again; it was worth it to save millions who might die in the war. We thought being immortal gave us the ability to judge and value a human life, and the right to take it too in order to shape the infinite future which we alone would see.
After a year I had grown closer to my companions and we began to feel distain for our Caldari masters. A few months after our debt ended we begun to remove ourselves from the politics of man. We joined a corporation of other Capsulars. The corporation didn’t care about the Empires squabbles; they were out to carve their own Empire. We took space and owned entire solar systems, living out of stations and in our ships at times, we fought not the inconsequential wars of man, but the never ending fight of a Capsular. Against other immortals we stood on equal ground, time and time again shown that we were not beyond destruction, only beyond death. The realisation that others were as powerful, if not more so than us, was humbling. We began to become individuals again no longer Gods, but immortal humans with compassion, wants and needs. We had values we would fight for and wants we would happily be reborn for, morals we would stand for. We strove now for our own space, for money and power; the same as any other human, the only difference? Our struggle will last forever.

Scouting for Reds

I’m a real sucker for a fleet. I enjoy the aspect of working together as a large group of people to achieve a single goal. Be it reinforcing a POS, locking down a system or even just looking for ratters, it’s much more fun as a group. Yesterday I got the pleasure of experiencing what has to happen to make a fleet come together. Quite often I occupy my time doing background tasks while sitting in my home station waiting for a fleet or Call to Arms. In this particular instance I had gone though my daily planetary interaction routine, refreshed my market orders and even spent some time doing my secretarial work for the Alliance. Usually I have three main methods of keeping an eye on what fleets are going while I work on other things. Firstly the “Reinforce Timer Info Portal” run by our Sponsor Group gives a good forewarning as to when fleets are likely to be heading where; in terms of station, POS bashes as well as Sovereignty Warfare fights. Next I have a pair of mailing lists, which forewarns of impending organised fleets, giving firm details as to their intended makeup and plans. Finally for spur of the moment engagements I keep a good eye on the information and organisation text channel for our Group and our Region. However tonight, on a whim I happened to glance at the Intel channel, and I was rewarded with the events which followed.
Looking at the Intelligence channel I spotted an FC asking for clarification on a group of 60 reds reported just inside enemy lines, looking very much like a gang forming up for a roam into our space. The FC was asking for further reports and a fleet composition breakdown as well as if we had any eyes on the enemy fleet. He received no response from the original reporter and I began to get interested. Between living very near to the space in which the fleet was reported and currently being based out of a station just a few jumps from the enemies system, I knew that I was currently only a few jumps away from the reported system (L-TOFR). Ignoring the gut feeling of dread knowing what I was volunteering for, I fired up a private communication channel with the FC and asked him if he would like me to do some reconnaissance in my Stealth bomber. To my horror he replied affirmatively.
Let me be clear on stealth bombers, I like stealth bombers. Stealth bombers (alone or in groups) can perform physical and psychological terror attacks on an enemy. We have locked down systems like LXQ before now just by being in the local after a long campaign. Within a fleet they are also insanely useful for cheap, quick, high DPS. Unfortunately once again I was going to be called on to do what I’m not so fond of doing, scouting. It’s a thankless job fraught with risk and, in this case, would probably end up with me watching the fleet I had been waiting on for the last few hours have fun popping the enemy. It is also however the speciality of my Alliance and, by its training, me. Duty called.
Arriving safely in L-LOFR I immediately warped away from the gate to an old deep safe I had tucked away in the neocom. I engaged the stealth systems hiding me and my ship invisible to both sensors and the naked eye until I desired to be seen, or closed within 2500m of another object. As soon as I landed in the safe I began the slow work of finding an enemy fleet using nothing but my wits and a directional scanner. Local showed 60 red FOF beacons in system but from my current location my scanner was only picking up 10. Normally I would have disregarded this set of ships as an AFK group or similar, but the fact that they were mostly Carrier class vessels caught my attention. The enemy would not deploy Carriers this close to the Red line without reason. For Carriers this meant one of two most things either they were preparing for a jump into our space; which I disregarded as they should have been able to jump from deeper inside their space away from scouts like me), or they were repairing a POS. Checking the system map and correlating it with the POS Reinforced Timers I soon found a POS which had just come out of incapacitation in the area of my scan. Warping to 100km of the listed Planet and Moon I found my first prize. As I un-puckered certain parts of my anatomy (you never know where you’ll come out of a blind warp to a moon with a POS and fleet on it), I found that I was a safe, 150km off of a large POS being repaired by a carrier fleet and a smattering of Logistics ships. Bookmarking my safe location I reported the finds to the FC (who had opened a comms channel with me) and continued on to find the rest of the enemy fleet.
Looking once again at the system map I found a location which would put my scanner in range of the planets not covered by my current and engaged my warp drive towards it. Landing on the planet and scanning the system on a 360 degree sweep, I found what I was looking for, a large number of Battleships and Battlecruisers. Pulling the scan angle down to 180 degrees I pulsed it once facing “north” (relative to my ship) with no results, and then once “south”, and hit the fleet again. Now I knew the fleet were behind me I halved the angle again to a 90 and hit the scan at the South East and South West quadrants finding hits in the SW. This gave me the fleet’s location at either planet 2 or 4 (as the only planets in the South West Quadrant). Using my ships centre point as a cross hair I aimed my scanner at planet 2 and narrowed the scan all the way down to a 20 deg and punched the activation, jackpot. Unfortunately my hunt wasn’t over; planet 2 had a selection of 17 moons, damn. Warping into the planet for a scan in the centre of all the moons, I started the process again, 180, 90 and then I had them. On a 90 deg NE scan I found the fleet and only 4 moons, enough to check each one with the Mk 1 Eyeball (or at least whatever I used to view the ships render of its surrounding). Typically on the last moon I found them. Each time I went into warp (at 100km of course, safety first) my Pod readouts showed extreme high stress levels, increased hear rate and during the final warp even a warning light on the colostomy tube. My surprise erased all hints of terror from my system as I let out an audible “what the hell”. Remembering that I was in a communications channel I immediately (mentally) cursed my unprofessionalism as the FC replied “What? Scout, report? What do you see?”.
Opening the Mic again I replied “Enemy fleet BS/BC attacking a POS, large Amarr”
“What, whos POS is it? One of ours” his incredulous reply came.
“Confirming sir, it’s an allied POS, Stella Polaris” I confirmed, trying my hardest to keep surprise from my voice.
“Ok scout received, I’m jacking this up to high command, keep eyes and await further orders”.
“Wilco”.
It didn’t take long for him to come back with more. “Ok scout I have a few orders for you, first I want you to get me the status of that POS”
“You want me to lock it sir?” which in my mind was pronounced “Oh shit no”
“Affirmative, just get out alive”
I shuddered; this was likely to get me killed very fast. I assessed my odds, I was now at 140km of the POS, with a Max targeting range of 80km, the enemy fleet was just off to the left of the POS from where I was and about 80km away from me now putting them around 30-40km away from me when I got to lock range. Oh well it was a cheap Stealth bomber any way, and maybe I could reship in time for the fleet. I began closing the distance to lock range. About half way there, The POS got unlucky and I got lucky.
“Scout break” I called joyously into the comms
“Go go”
“Friendly POS is in reinforced”
“How long till it comes back out?” In my joy of not losing a ship I hadn’t looked at the timer readout. I glanced now.
“Uh 59 minutes sir” and I was back to incredulous
“Confirm!?”
“Timer reads fifty nine minutes standard, that is 5.9 Mike, 36 Sierra, sir”
“Oh gods….. Ok Hark, standing orders, gets me a full fleet composition report on this and the capital assets, then assign yourself as eyes on for the battleship fleet, awaiting further orders”
So the wait began, thankfully now I had managed to raise a couple of my Alliance mates on our private voice comms channel, so I settled down listening to them joining the fleet and making their own preparations to leave, occasionally giving system updates to the FC on any changes in the enemy fleet comp. Once the fleet started to mobilise I saw immediate changes in the enemy’s fleet, more began to arrive. By the time our fleet was one jump out from me, the enemy began warping to the gate our guys would arrive at. I reported this and got a “Confirmed” from the scout now watching the receiving jump gate. This was where I started making mistakes. I would like to refer you back to my reasons for not liking the Stealth Bomber, seeing that the fleet I had been watching was now about to engage the enemy, I interpreted my orders as being to keep on them until told otherwise. As well as being over eager and overzealous for kills, my head was also not entirely in the right place when I made my next choice, and because of this my decision was based on assumptions. The first was an assumption on intelligence; upon hearing “bubble is down” I assumed that this meant the warp disruption bubble which could suck me out of warp on the gate itself, instead of at the distance I requested, would be down allowing me to arrive at a distance I wanted from the gate. The second was on location; warping from the same location to the same location as the enemy fleet would be safe because of my first assumption, I would come out of warp behind the enemy fleet. The third was backup; When the FC called jump in, I assumed that his next order would be to attack the fleet, thus distracting them for my arrival and allowing me hit from behind, a small annoyance compared with the large fleet pounding on them from in front.
All three assumptions turned out to be completely and totally incorrect, the holoreal quote is I believe, “Assumption is the mother of all fuckups” and I was about to have triplets. As I heard the FC’s order to jump in I entered warp (having been aligned and awaiting my moment), on the same warp line as the enemy. Then I heard a second order seamlessly follow the first “hold cloaks”, too late to cancel warp, I swore profusely and loudly (remembering to disengage mic first). It didn’t matter, there was no bubble, I would just hold my own cloak 30 or 40 km behind the enemy fleet until they were otherwise occupied. Unfortunately there was still a warp disruption bubble, sitting in space like a large incorporeal magnet for warping space ships sucking any ships to its outer edge instead of where they had specified, this is exactly what it did to me. Instead of winding down warp-speed to real-space behind the enemy fleet I overshot to the edge of the bubble in the midst of the battleship fleet who had been drawn in similarly. My warp drive wound down and brought me to a speed at which the real-space engines could take over. I watched as an Armageddon slowly drew closer and closer on my proximity sensor, with no control as to my ships speed or direction until the warp drive handed me back control of the ship. It ticked down past 3000m and steadily towards the 2500m mark at which my cloak would be forced to disengage, two “safety” systems drawing me closer and closer to impending doom. Just as the navicomp handed controls back to me I watched the meter pass 2499m. Already pounding the warp button targeting the sun, my eyes were locked on the cloak status monitor pulsing, green… green…. green…. red “fuck”. I barely moved a few hundred meters before I was hammering into structure at a rate which would have shamed a shuttle. Alarms blaring and warning lights flashing I mentally prepared for EV. Still commanding ordering my ship to warp away to the sun, I watched as the Stealth Bomber disintegrated around me. A brief pause in my view feed as the ships systems, now no more than slag, stopped generating the digitalised view of reality and the pods own data stream started feeding into my head instead and I was thankfully away. Safe.
Without pausing to think I exfiltrated my capsule back to my home station and managed to reship into a close range battle ship and re-entered the fight in my preferred damage dealing role. The battle from here was mostly standard, sitting in the POS while logistics repaired it, and then pouncing into the enemy fleet when it came to try and stop our repair efforts, dealing coherent light death at close range to others. Although uneventful (apart from the unfortunate destruction of a Corp mates battleship due to a mistake on the FC’s behalf), I thoroughly enjoyed the battle especially as it was my first chance to try the Amarr battleships which I had recently cross trained myself too. I even enjoyed a place on a wonderful Imperial Navy Apocalypse kill totalling 1.5bill ISK value. Once again returning my pod to its nesting place deep in LS-JEP station, I was satisfied. I had played a vital role in the formation of a fleet which had won the day, and even then gone on from scouting to helping on the front lines, having a blast at the same time. Yup I’m a sucker for a fleet.
Hark¬

Raptor Rapture

I love lots of ships in EvE for all kinds of reasons. The raw power of a Carrier, the shear versatility of a BattleCruiser, but to me there is something exhilarating that sitting in an interceptor. I wouldn’t claim it’s my favourite ship, but it ranks high, yet for some reason I always seem to neglect it. This is why it was such a refreshing experience to join a frigate gang a few nights ago with it.
I generally fly one of two interceptor fits, either a long range crow fit:
[high]: Named missile Launchers x3
[Mid]: 1mn Microwarp Drive I, Warp Disruptor, Cap Recharger II
[Low]: Nanofiber Internal Structure II x3
[Rig]: Small Auxilary Thruster I x2
or a slightly less expensive Raptor for careless combat:
[high]: Small Nosferatu I, Light Ion Blaster I
[mid]: 1M Microwarp Drive I
[low]: Nanofiber Internal Structure II x3
[rig]: Small Auxillary Thrusters x2
Today I was feeling slightly suicidal and selected the Raptor from the hanger and engaged my pod with it. The suicide fit is so reckless and disposable that I always feel I can just throw caution to the wind in it and run risks I would never dare in any other ship, after all it’s going to die anyway, right? After the customary pod integration and a brief check of the ships system and ammo storage I punched the un-dock to join the already rapidly moving fleet. Being already in a voice channel with two close friends from my Alliance I asked for a confirmation of our rendezvous system and upon receiving it I threw it at the navigation system and began speeding my way towards enemy space. In-between hailing gates for activation and slamming on my warp drive in a frenzied rush to catch up, I called up a second voice channel in which I attempted to connect to the fleet’s voice server. Rejection: Your Corporation Name is listed incorrectly. Swearing at the fit of compassion I had fallen to when I had agreed move corporations to aid a friend’s recruitment drive. I was going to have to re-register my authentication codes for access to the security systems. Interceptors require you to be on the ball so I guessed that juggling catching up with a fleet and registering to a security system with an Auth Key is a good warm up and before long I had managed to complete both with no issues.
Once caught up with the fleet I started falling into the lines and listening to our commander give his orders. Were playing a simple game of hunt the ratter in Russian systems; jumping through gates and hunting any juicy targets. For the first few jumps this didn’t present anything particularly interesting. Then a miracle happened. While waiting on a gate for the FC to give the jump command the scouts name lights up on the voice channel, “Absolution on the gate… Jumped”, followed by the Commanders reply “Confirmed, Gate fire, Get him”. The short order was all we needed to fling into action. Without thinking I kicked the Raptor around and burned away from the gate simultaneously setting an orbit range of 15k of the gate to wait for the Absolution to de-cloak. Switching off the safeties I set the points, scram and Ion Blaster to hot and turn my attention to watching the overview. We didn’t have to wait long, within a few seconds the overview had a new contact, Red. I started the lock. Then I set the ship to orbit the Abso, slam on the Microwarp Drive and speed towards our prey. The lock goes red before I’m within scram and web range so I was forced wait a few seconds to close within 10km and re-activate for contact. The Abso Pilot had realised his mistake (most likely the very moment he loaded grid) and is trying to execute the only manoeuvre which, in theory, has a slim chance of him living: burning for the gate. In reality, frigate gangs (especially ones heavy in interceptors) tend to have more than a fair share of Stasis Webifiers. Due to this fact the Abso did not so much burn as lukewarm back to the gate at around 10m/s. The shields dropped rapidly and the Abso soon gave in to a death of 1000 paper cuts, the pod followed shortly. The FC gave the order to loot the field and we were shortly informed that the ship had been faction fitted to a total worth of around 500M ISK.
We continued to forage into enemy space and managed to catch a Hurricane and Tempest in a bubble. Both died rapidly to our swarm and (as it was a station system) we decided to stay a while and camp. A Loki came out to play some station games and we toyed with him and a few others for a little while but we didn’t manage to kill him. I will now introduce you to a friend of mine for tonight Tony M0ntana Tony is a plucky fellow who is not of a fight. While playing station games with the Loki, a second ship decided to undock and join in the fun. Unfortunately Tony had brought a Coercer to the game. Destroyers are racked up as frigate killers, and one on one, I expect that he could have killed most of our fleet. However this was not 1v1, this was station games. The coercer crumbled to the alpha strike before he can re-dock. We then continue to roam the nearby systems looking for any unwilling (or willing) targets. We didn’t find much except an enemy bomber who managed to bomb a patch of empty space 20km away from both the gate and out fleet, so giving up we returned to the station system. However before we jumped in the scout reported that there was an enemy drake sitting 250km off the gate, it’s Tony. Examining the facts, Tony knew what our fleet was, how big it is and he had at least 15 seconds in-between our fleet jumping in and reaching him in which warp out, all while being at full speed align to a celestial. A lesser man would have backed out; a lesser man would have warped out the moment the fleet arrived and thrown expletives at us from safety. Not Tony, here is how it went: Knowing that Tony was well versed in our fleet capability, and that we could not stop him from escaping the FC decided on lighting action. “Jump jump jump, burn for him, call tackle” we did. As my ship loaded the systems grid post jump, I immediately kicked on the MWD and burned towards our brave heroic friend. Our fast tackle, most of the fleet, were expecting him to warp out at any second. A fleet of 50+ frigates speeding towards you can have a bowel loosening effect on most Drake Pilots. But to our shock Tony hunkers down, the drones go out and the first missile/Drone blob heads strait for a Dramial. Reaching the drake I programmed in an orbit course of 500m and punched the scram web and Neutralisers on him. Flicking over my overview settings I targeted a drone and set my lone Hybrid on it, hoping to take a bit of damage off the fleet. But soon the Drake, much like the coercer wilts under the plague of frigates.
After this prolonged activity in hostile space the FC decided it was time to drop off the radar. The fleet was given orders to burn as fast as we could to a target system where we will prepare for our next incursion. During this burn some of the fleet lagged behind slightly and disaster struck. Because our burn target was a different target to where my auto pilot is set, like a lemming I, along with around 15 other pilots burn to the wrong destination. Seeing our mistake a few jumps away we do a quick swing around and head to the correct destination, chagrined at our mistake. This is when it happens. The front end of the burn, being now 5 jumps away, find and engage a Vagabond, dispatching it before we can catch up for the kill. One killmail I’m not on for being stupid.
Having dropped off the radar for the moment we began to move towards our next station system target. LXQ holds a special place in my heart every since I managed to accidently kill a Worm with a bomb on one of its famous gate camps. Long story short, during our stealth bomber embargo in the system, I threw a bomb at a Blackbird and warped off. When watching the logs for the kill, instead of a blackbird a Worm appears on my kill list, happy days. But I digress, after scouting the system we decided to set up camp on the new station (when did that appear!?) and just after the bubbles go up, what should jump in but a Gila. Settling into my usual routine, MWD, burn to orbit and tackle but this time the Gila drops before I even get in tackle range, which was later explained but its extreme lack of any tank. When looking at the killmail later, I realised that the pilot of this Gila was the same as the one whom I relinquished of his worm all those months ago, if you read this, bring me a Machariel next time please!
We returned home via a quick stop in the same station system we visited and who should undock in a coercer? That’s right Brave Sir Tony, after we have finished showing him our pretty disco lights we set off home and call it quits. On the way back we did encounter a single Manticore who attempted to bomb us on a gate. However thanks to some quick thinking (realising that a Manti uses Kinetic which shouldn’t kill my Shielded Crow as long as I don’t MWD), I managed to get a lock on and prevented him from cloaking; the fleet destroys him before the bomb even lands.
Through the evening we lost about 4-5 ships and killed around 1bn worth of ships with a fleet consiting of only frigate and Destroyer hulls. Having gotten into a rut of using my Drake for nearly every fleet, this has been a wonderful reprieve and reminder of the fun of shear blistering speed. As my pod nestled into to its resting place at the station, my Raptor was defiantly up a notch on the list of favourite ships.
Hark¬