Both avid readers of this blog know that my EVE activity is more like punctuated equilibrium than steady evolutionary progress, i.e. my characters have long periods of stasis followed by sudden (and generally quite violent) bursts. The reason is simple, I travel for work and can’t be bothered to carry a second (private) laptop – my corporate laptop is so full of IT-sanctioned spyware that I swear it logs my keystrokes, Snowcrash-style and I expect to be hauled in front of a committee if my “sent mails / hour” ratio drops below 45 at 11 pm.
When I do get back home, I log in and look for fleets first, then try to find a ship that I am allowed to fly. See, I am still in Noir. Academy which (wisely) prohibits anything shinier than an interceptor or bomber. Maybe (just maybe), I get to fly a cruiser one day. But when our fleet goes out you can tell the academy dudes – we are the ones buzzing around the blue ball like flies around an overripe banana (there has to be a better image). But before even that happens, I need to find my fleet which isn’t that easy. See, mercenary life style is more or less nomadic. People pay us and we saddle up and bring the rain. Our logistics team is amazing in moving stuff from A to B – with the slight wrinkle that you have to be in the game to create the contracts. And so, for the second time, I returned to the game and found myself entirely alone in our home station while the fleet was somewhere very distant shooting things.
In that situation, I get into an Academy-Approved interceptor (I fly only doctrine-approved stuff these days which means, that part of my brain also has atrophied) and head at best speed toward the sound of gunfire. One man, one ship, I come to the aid of my brethren unless of course I hit a sensor-boosted gate camp. Ouch. No SRP for this wreck of course and without sources of income, I watch my wallet dwindle alarmingly. Anyway, off to Amarr, new – identical – boat is purchased and I race toward my new home system (OpSec!). Its literally a blind run, I don’t look for Dotlan activity, I have no idea who owns it and I generally don’t care about the locals. Occasionally, I do see a gate camp but most camps are not quite efficient enough to catch me and I make it “home”.
I have no clue where I am btw, Nullsec names all sound the same to me and if someone asked me if I am in goon space or in Russian space, I would have no idea. Its nullsec. If it ain’t blue or purple or green, I’ll shoot it. (ok, I will not shoot it. I will run for my life. But that doesn’t sound as good). I am sure, somewhere it was explained what our contract is, who we are fighting and why. But as Academy pilot, I don’t have access to the forums and I love it. I have zero responsibility for the greater picture – someone else figured all this out. Flying with no expectations for performance or meta-knowledge is oddly liberating. EVE all of sudden feels different, it feels like a (wait for it) “game”. Yes, I said it. A computer game!
Anyway. So I park my sole interceptor in my temporary home and log for RL stuff. A fleet was announced for later this afternoon as a casual stroll around the neighborhood, see which neighbor keeps his lawn, which neighbor has a mean dog, that kind of thing.
When the fleet forms, Interceptor pilots are asked for and I gladly apply to be scout. Mostly because I don’t have another boat. Its either ‘ceptor or stay and home. Since this is a general recon fleet, FC asks me to charge forward and just scout for things to shoot, I am not slavishly held to +1 or something. Its different and harder for me, since I have no clue about the landscape. Dotlan is really the only tool that I can use and I alternate between “jumps” and “NPC kills” to get an idea what is happening. Not much as it turns out. I am easily + 10 and look in all the little side systems for a mining fleet or something, much like a SCUBA diver looks under rocks in a reef for something edible. Then the fleet catches up, FC gets intel and my other scout buddy catches a whiff of action. He holds and investigates, I charge past him and am now +3 of the fleet, so if I do find / catch something, backup may even be arriving in time before my boat expires.
But nothing. People are in “local” but docked / POSed / cloaked up, nothing really on scan, some systems have wrecks, some have tons of sites, some have sweet nothing. All of a sudden a Caracal whizzes past us and I am in hot pursuit. My memory is a bit of a blur but I following him to a asteroid belt, landing about 30km off. He decides to stay and yellow-boxes me but no shots are fired. I activate all my mods and go into a 20km spiral, hoping that he is not fit with something that can wipe me off the map. And because my overview excludes blues, I don’t even see that my fellow scout also has point of him, so even if one of us goes down, we have him. On comms, fellow scout reports that he is being shot at but with limited effect and we continue to pin him down until our fleet arrives and makes very short work of him and his pod. In short review, I did pretty much everything right. I followed him to the correct belt, held my range and called for support. I could have been clearer on comms where I was exactly but FC was patient with me and asked the right questions. Between me and my fellow scout, we did exactly the job we came here to do. And I even overheated – with the consequence that my mid rack is getting orange. I forgot to pack nanite paste and someone very kindly drops a can that I can scrounge from.
All repaired, FC now asks for a tighter formation and I go +2 max and head toward some target that he thinks we may get fights. I can’t resist to take side trips into dead-end systems but in general, I stay close to the fleet. They seem to be getting some action, 2 jumps behind me and I am ordered back but by the time I arrive, it turned into false alarm. So, I turn my boat around and charge forward, I am still flush with the excitement from the Caracal earlier when I see a Stabber Fleet Issue on Dscan. He is perfectly in-line with one of those newfangled command nodes and in my total newbness I ask on comms whether those command nodes are associated with POS-es or safe to warp to. Stone silence on Comms – I literally can see the thought-bubble over every fleet member “who brought this newb?”. Anyway, I warp to zero on this thing and indeed, the Stabber is there, apparently entosing something. I ask for permission to engage (FC grants it) and me and my fellow scout burn toward him. I get hard tackle but for some weird reason it doesn’t hold, he moves out of range and suddenly, he is gone. He warped to a gate, I know which one, my crew throws shovels of coal into to the burner and I warp in hot pursuit. And due to the weirdness of the game, I land well before him at the gate at 20km (I dont like warping to zero to anything, its a Wormhole thing). He is about 30km behind me – I think he may have aggressed and knows that he can’t jump yet. My scout colleague lands even closer to him and we nail him right where he stands. Our fleet arrives and his pod escapes the smoldering heap of rubble we created. Turns out, he wasn’t entosing, so no idea what he was doing there (chasing an entosing ship?). GFs are exchanged – by the way, in this I love the Mercenary crew. They never troll, they are disciplined, polite and courteous. Much like my old corp – if it was any different, I wouldn’t last long.
Alright, fleet (and blog post) are getting lengthy, time to head to the barn. I run forward, +5 and generally report back a whole load of nothing until we get home. We have tons of “neutrals” in our home system and local is full of “gf”. D-scan is a sea of wrecks and apparently a big brawl just happened. We were blissfully unaware. I D-scan the fleet and someone on comms has cloaky eyes reporting the fleet at our Station. I play it safe and warp to 100km in order to get a better look and find myself landing 20km off a hostile fleet and literally on top of a Stiletto Interceptor. Good aim, I’d say, old chap. Not sure who was more scared, he or I but apparently my response is faster and I bail as fast as I can to a nearby celestial (and yes, I faceplant into a POCO). FC asks for details on the hostile fleet, I report my soiled pants as only intel but our cloaky fleetmate has a very good picture of the setup and FC chuckles about my newbness.
Our fleet warps into the brawl and I decide to stay outside of it, brawls are not made for interceptors. From my safe spot, I do quick mental geometry, my goal is to warp 100km behind my own fleet and watch the field for stragglers and escapees. I reposition, then warp to the station at 100 again – this being the error – and I land on top of my FC who is calling targets to tackle. Ok, so I screwed up but I am not to bail, surge forward to try to tackle the primary target. But that of course was the undoing, I am quickly primaried by the hostiles and with zero tank on this ‘ceptor I dont even have time to call for reps. And thus, my brand new interceptor is no more, I warp to my safe spot, report the loss to the FC and wait out my timer. I am entirely out of ships, there is nothing I
can am allowed to fly on contract and my usefulness is zero (it was low to begin with). I am calling it a night.
Overall, it was a great night, expensive, sure but a lot of fun. Being scout is great and I hope to get better at it during my time in NA. Big thank-you to my fleet and alliance mates – you guys are awesome, helpful and super-patient with me! And now I need to find another ship :)
PS. I just realized that I had the order of the kills wrong, the Stabber Fleet Issue came first, the Caracal second. Blame my excitement, blame lack of coffee or general incompetence but I am not re-writing this post :)