Bait And Tackle

Thanks for the invite to continue to write on an ongoing basis, splatus/Epigene. I look forward to contributing!

So as my first post, here’s another perspective on last night’s fun & games.

As always, I am absolutely sure I got the cast of characters and lines mixed up. In fact, I’m pretty certain I got a number of the ships mixed up, characters, and details. But if I’m the one telling the story, I’m the one that gets to lie like a rug…

Evenstar’s normally gentle Virginia drawl chillingly cut through the chatter on voice comms. “Break, break. Prophecy on D-Scan.”
“Abaddon” Epigene piped in, his high German accent salted with a pinch of the King’s English and American.
“Now an Anathema,” piped in T Lyran’s East Coast American.
A characteristic high-pitched vocal tick announced GodOfCarnage was about to enter the conversation. “Any chance someone just emptied the SMA at their POS to scare us off?”
A pregnant pause on Teamspeak. Another click of the D-Scan. A Utah accent from TXG Sync.
“Pilgrim.”

Another pause. Clearly everyone was waiting for someone else to make a decision. In most cases, that would be Evenstar or Epigene, but tonight Tarek was taking his turn as FC. “That’s it, guys,” he stated authoritatively, “abandon the op. Everyone align to the C3A to Fred hole and we fleet warp together.”

A few seconds later, and a chime of “aligned” from Teamspeak, and the blessed words “Warp drive active” played over my headset. The op was done for; we’d obviously been found out running the sites in our neighboring wormhole-connected sector, and to remain fighting Sleepers when other players were hunting us would be suicide.

The night started in a promising fashion. We had a K162 from a C3A open up in Fred. For those not familiar with what those terms mean, suffice to say that most wormholes open basically one-way. Until someone opens them, they remain closed. A “K162” means that it was opened from the other side by a player. Neftaran had spent the better part of an hour scouting out the system due to the plethora of signatures of wormholes and potential sites to be run. The best part of a “C3” is that it is one grade up in difficulty — and in loot — from the typical fare we usually find in and around our home system. There was no shortage of volunteers to run the thirteen sites in this adjacent system.

Everything went pretty well for the first nine sites. GodOfCarnage ran the salvager, periodically mentioning how much loot we’d gathered and running loads of salvaged nanoribbons back to home base to be sold later. We’d all gotten paid that morning, and the thought of more loot seemed to be motivation for more people to participate in the op. Several times folks on the channel mentioned that they’d never seen so many people in our Fred fleet.

Then the sightings of enemies. And the quick skedaddle back to Fred. We hung out for a moment on the Fred side of the C3 hole, wondering what to do next.

“Should we hang out here in our Drakes?” I asked.

“These are Pve” — Player Versus Environment — “fits,” answered Tarek tersely. “Get back to the barracks and re-ship to something PvP. Then post your fits to fleet.”

I followed his orders. Digging through the ship management array in the POS, though, is always a kind of adventure. I had a couple of frigates I knew I flew well, but I was eager to pilot my shiny new Coercer. Equipped with eight dual light pulse lasers, I knew that if I used Scorch crystals I could keep about 20KM range on potential adversaries and put out some pretty serious damage. To my dismay, however, as I loaded up a hauler with containers from my rack and rummaged around, I found that I had no T2 laser crystals in my inventory. A quick look over the shared Ore Storage Array “Armory & Supply” revealed a similar story: plenty of faction and Tech 2 crystals in medium, but a very scarce selection in Small. I kicked myself for not picking up more crystals of various sizes during my last shopping trip to Jita.

I eventually found eight Infrared crystals in Small that would fit my Coercer. I ran the numbers through Pyfa, and it looked grim: my range and damage would both be gimped about 30%-40% off their max. Being a sort of close-range glass-cannon, the Coercer relies on overwhelming damage to do its job with very little tank to absorb damage. I didn’t think it would work.

The FC, luckily, had another idea.

“OK, ladies,” he began, “GodOfCarnage is in an assault frigate. If you’ve got a cloaky recon or tech 3, now’s the time. No bombers on this run; you’ll just be meat for the grinder of that Prophecy’s drones. We need someone to drive a salvager.”

“Really?” I replied tentatively. “With all those ships next door, you want to finish salvaging the sites?”

“There’s a fortune in ISK just waiting for us to pick it up,” answered Epigene. “We’re not just going to let them have it. They will have to try to take it from us.”

I paused for a moment. There’s another Coercer sitting in the Ship Management Array (SMA). It’s called “ShinyLittle”. Dunno why it has that name, but it’s kind of a corporate loaner, equipped for salvage. Since it’s an Amarr destroyer, it doesn’t seem particularly popular amongst our would-be salvaging crew; the Catalyst sees far more use. Even though it’s shared, I see it as “mine”, since it’s what I use every time I run the salvager. The decision was, apparently, made before I consciously realized it. I clicked the SMA, swapping hulls. “I’ll do it,” I said. “TXG Sync is in the salvager.”

After a brief pause, I continued. “I suppose I’m the bait.”

Nobody contradicted me.

We rendezvoused on our side of the wormhole to the C3. We still had some players as “eyes” on the other side, but had lost eyes on the POS for some reason having to do with over-enthusiastic bookmark cleansing by Evenstar. We’d left off at the site we’d named “site six”.

A brief, high-pitched vocal tone on voice comms was GodOfCarnage’s announcement he was about to speak. “Six is clear,” his voice rang out. He may take an extra second getting the message out, but GOC knows his business, and his skills with an assault frigate seem as solid as his abilities in a battlecruiser. Deadly and not to be underestimated.

I jumped through the wormhole, aligned ShinyLittle Salvage Coercer to Site Six, took a deep breath, and — with my finger off the push-to-talk button — muttered “here goes nothing”. I was a little nervous. June 4, 2013 is the date for a new patch to Eve, and in anticipation of the date just a few weeks hence, I’d installed “implants” designed to enhance my character’s learning speed to try to take advantage of skillpoint changes. With 40 million ISK worth of implants, I was concerned about being “podded”, or pod-killed and having to buy new implants to replace those I’d earned. Not to mention losing training time on a very tight schedule before the patch.

My ShinyLittle Coercer dropped on-grid near a wreck on Site Six, the highlight-points of GodOfCarnage and Azander patrolling. Azander was in a little piece-of-nothing tech 1 frigate. Cheap and fast, tech 1 frigates aren’t built to last. They’re built to arrive first on the scene and get some “tackle” down on the opponents. I heard the reassuring voices of my fleet-mates as they arrived in cloaky “eyes” near the wreckage at Site Six to see if our opponents at the POS took the bait.

A few minutes passed. “Sisters Combat Scanner probes on D-scan.”

“We see them,” replied Azander. “They’re on long D-scan, not short. They don’t have you bookmarked yet. Keep salvaging.”

Minutes ticked by. I’m not a really fast salvager in the best of times, and under the pressure of waiting teammates and eager opponents I messed up here and there. My salvaging was definitely sub-optimal, and my palms sweated as I struggled to stay aligned to celestials in case I needed to warp, while simultaneously drifting toward wrecks to tractor them close and salvage them. It was a nerve-wracking experience; a salvage-fit Coercer is even more paper-thin and slower than the usual glass-cannon Coercer. All it would take was huff and a puff from the hot, fetid breath of an internet spaceship nerd to blow it up.

“Combat probes on short D-Scan,” updated MadTeddyBear.
“They should be here any time now,” responded Neftaran. His voice, as always, was an interesting combination of eager and tired.

“Once they show up, you should just take the salvager to the next site and keep salvaging,” said Cosah.

“That’s so cheeky,” responded Epigene. “You should do it.”

Clicking D-Scan every three seconds, I continued to loot and salvage wrecks. Just one more wreck at this site; I aligned to Planet 1’s Customs Office and towed the final battleship wreck behind me as I my salvagers run by my low-skill character attempted unsuccessfully to salvage the wreck. With my D-scan set to just one astronomical Unit (AU), I saw a solitary Combat Scanner Probe appear in my D-Scan window.

“Got a probe within one AU,” I updated the team. “Wondering if I ought to bug out now with 85 million in the hold.”

“Warp out when they land on grid,” replied Epigene. “We will take care of them. We’ll convoy you home when this is all done.”

A few tense seconds passed. Then an excited voice. Cosah, my fellow laser-boats-and-armor-tanking bunkmate in Rack 3, Team 1, was on comms. “I got a prophecy and a manticore on close D-scan.”

Tarek’s voice reappeared on comms. “The Pilgrim uncloaked. Get tackle on that Pilgrim, and get that salvager out of here!”

I responded swiftly. Already aligned to the Player Owned Customs Office, I warped to zero within a few scant seconds of the appearance of the Pilgrim on grid. I experienced the rest of the action as fragments of speech on voice comms. It was good we had a plan, and it seemed like everybody played their part.

“Drake on the field. Focus on that Pilgrim.”
“I can’t keep tackle on him, I’m into structure!”
“Take out that pilgrim, he’s got neuts.”
“Had to warp out, I was neuted out and into structure. On my way back.”
“Pilgrim’s running, everybody on the Prophecy.”
“Anyone have a hull repairer?”
“Take out the Drake’s drones. Taking out the Prophecy’s drones is pointless; he’ll just launch more.”
“The drones got me, I’m in a pod. Heading back to Fred to re-ship.”
“I’m gonna take the salvager to site 7 and keep salvaging.”
“The Prophecy and the Pilgrim both have tons of drones; ignore theirs, and focus on the others”
“Hey, Sync, you have this ship called C3 Magic Smoke, mind if I borrow it?”
“No problem, T, take anything you can fly.”
“Looks like they were just expecting a salvager and a couple of frigates. Boy, were they surprised.”
“Link the killmail.”
“A tech 1 frigate for a battlecruiser? I’ll take that trade any day.”
“Looks like the Prophecy pilot didn’t even have Hull Upgrades IV yet. His setup is kind of … Heinz 57.”
“Sync, can you come back and salvage site six? Got a couple extra wrecks here now.”
“Dropping off non-Sleeper salvage at the Ore Storage Array Armory & Supply. Sift through it for something useful if you think you lost anything.”
“Sync, I dropped the previous loot into Rack 3 Armory.”
“OK, combined loot from sleepers and players… looks like about 450 million.”
“Sweet.”

At the end of the day, a 95 million ISK prophecy lost on their side, and a 6 million ISK tech 1 frigate lost on ours. Salvager Bait didn’t even get fired on. GFs exchanged in local with our opponents, and respectful thanks from Epigene for them bringing the fight despite being outnumbered. I finished hoovering the remaining sites under the watchful eyes of my corp-mates, and convoyed back to Fred.

A good night’s work for the Broken Wheel.

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6 responses to “Bait And Tackle

  1. Woah. Scary observation of your fleet mates. Kinda creepy, but very detailed and cool. What a great start. I look forward to this detective style psych approach. I was wondering why the FC would primary one of the tackiest ships first, but turns out Epi was scatter-braining the situation multi-boxing like a champ. Maybe you guys can do the 2 perspective thing more – as one transparent writer might be very entertaining – two honest writers make a fun puzzle. So much cross-referencing detail. Feel like I was there.

    • I wasn’t FC ing, Tarek was. Otherwise, we’d all be doing backstrokes in cloning vats. My falcon was fitted well (tank, highs etc) but I had swapped the single racial Amarr against another Caldari. So, I nothing but multi specs and I cycled them between the Pilgrim and the Prophecy. The Drake was not stupid, he burned out of my range to the other side of the field, I think.

  2. OK, I found your blog through a friend (I think you know who). I got sort of weirded out because it had my name in it. Last time i was in a wormhole was 2011. I love/hate WH space.

    Kudos to all of you who live there (including my friend who is not up to it right now)

    • Ha, different Tarek – welcome to the blog 🙂 and yes, if you find yourself longing for WH space, join our public channel and we talk “IOS Recruitment” …

    • PS. we are very much awaiting the return of our mutual friend. Please tell our friend that we keep the bubble up and the launchers loaded for the return.

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