On Assignment

I think I mentioned before that I parked my main character in the C4 of our sister corporation Z3R0 Return Mining. They had lousy routes and I had parked myself for a few days in some Amarr high sec station, watching the world pass by. High sec still makes gives me the weird feeling that I get when I return from a lengthy backpacking trip back to the trailhead. The first sight of a car, the smell of asphalt in the sun is as alien and new to me as the experience of a warp gate and watching incredibly expensive or very vulnerable ships mill around docking stations. D-scan shows me miners in belts and I catch myself asking if they are a trap or if I could risk it. But no, its not a trap, they are in High Sec and reasonably safe.

So, off I went to the C4 when we had a route in my decently fitted but not ostentatious cloaky Tengu. Its stealthy and fast enough for intel work but has enough teeth to be useful in a real fleet. My other favorite ship stays the Nemesis bomber, a glass cannon if there ever was one – and even more so in a few days when Torpedoes V finishes. I have seen what Evenstar can do with maxed out torpedo skills and its frightening.

Our C4 – Shirley – is a nice enough hole with all the alliance “mod / cons” that one could expect. It has a “hotel” suite with SMAs that I can use to swap to other ships, it has a can where my alliance mates drop bookmarks and it has a crew of seasoned friends who have been with me for nearly 2 years. Fleet operations are easier, without saying much, we just know who is where and doing what. Its a change from flying with recruits but not necessarily “better” or “worse” just different. Chatter on comms is far less verbose, of course, like old couples, we have told all possible jokes to each other dozens of times. But while their are relaxed, I know that on a second’s notice, they can reship into very serious and very expensive ships that they know how to use and fleet comms will be 100% business.

For some reason, my friends needed to export a metric crap ton of stuff. Just gas, compressed ore, PI, sleeper loot etc etc. They had not had a decent route for a long time and so stuff accumulates. Orcas were needed, several haulers were readied and I was shanghaied into intel and security. I.e. stay invisible and when stuff hits the fan and everyone dies, its my fault. Just the kind of job I have in real life 🙂 but also a job for which my Tengu is not very useful. I park it and one of my friends parts with her shiny, brand new, never-used-in-anger Falcon. It is fitted kind of like mine at home but without DCU, with Neuts instead of Smartbombs and with one less multispec but a Caldari racial ECM instead. It’ll work.

So, our convoy of Orcas is accompanied by a webbing Battlecruiser, and watched by a number of guys in bombers, covops, a cloaky T3 and myself in a Falcon. Its pretty tense now, we have spotted hostile scouts in our neighbor C4 (that we just rolled) so speed now is of essence. Comms is quiet other than required status reports and the 2 Orcas arrive safely in high security space. Next follows a herd of Iterons, Mammoths and whatnot that bring other stuff out (ore and gas is big). A Proteus blips on D-scan in C4a and I am reading my Gallente racial ECM in case he engages. But he is cloaky, probes are on D-scan, our haulers race the clock until the local team finds our route. We space the haulers more so that at no time, we can lose two at a time to bubble or other camp but the stuff we are bringing in / out is pricey so no-one wants to lose anything.

We know we stretched our luck a little when other ships appear on long scan an Abaddon, Absolution, and a Purifier, converge on the hole that our hauler just jumped to. He lands at zero when they land on top of him and he jumps through – away from me. Wormholes act like eyes of a needle – a chokepoint that soft ships with long ranges (like my Falcon) have a hard time navigating without getting into trouble.

The opposing team does not immediately jump after him, no need, their Proteus is on the other side of the hole – cloaked – and a Purifier, not cloaked. That boat could have fast point, well “fast” would be relative, our pilot is in an Itty V. That thing is not fast under any conditions. He has about 300mil of PI in its belly, nothing serious but enough to worry about.

His cloak is wearing off and he asks what the plan will be. Our answer – align to the next hole, instantly hit your cloak, slowboat away from the WH into a direction, they may not expect. He has nerves of steel and does just that. If they were to decloak him, try to jump back to our side where my Falcon and our cloaky T3 wait. Oh yes, also the opposing Absolution, Abaddon and at least one smaller, faster ship somewhere. Oh, and a Loki.

I am going through my mental list of actions if my colleague decides to jump back – decloak, orbit, Racial Amarr ECM onto the Absolution, overheat multispec on the Abaddon, while our T3 hammers the Absolution into the ground. When the Proteus jumps to us, Gallente ECM and be very worried about drones, watch range. If I need to leave the field there is a very good chance our lone T3 will be toasted by that amount of firepower.

Our haulerfriend reports drones on his side and that the opposing team is trying to decloak him. They fly concentric circles around him but they keep missing him by 5km or so. I truly believe his pump-fake maneuver saved his boat, they are searching the narrow corridor between the hole he jumped through and the high security hole where safety awaits. The Purifier decides to jump to my side and he and the Abaddon warp away from the hole. Now or never, the Proteus will have a decloak-delay before he can target. The Abaddon is a fat slug that will never be able to jump from my side to his, aim, cloak, target and scram. I draw my orbit nearer to the hole – far too close for a Falcon and our T3 also. But maybe, just maybe, if things go pearshaped and I can jump across will I catch the Proteus with his pants down.

Our hauler aligns to the high security hole and when he reaches full speed, decloaks, hits the MWD and initiates warp. The Proteus furiously decloaks, burns towards him and aims to target but misses our guy by a fraction of a second. In warp, a collective sigh is breathed, 300 mil ISK and some honor is saved.

We decide the rally everyone back in our home hole and see what the opposing team will do. By now, they scanned down our hole and have a few ships in, so our team gets a little antsy. That was a fairly decent size fleet but they felt “disorganized”. Our T3 jumps back home, I hold station in case I need to bail him out somehow but nothing happens. They scanned us down (we see probes but we can’t get a grip on their scanner boat quickly enough) and eventually they all leave.

Our wormhole to them was already stressed when they start collapsing it by jumping their motley collection of battleships and cruisers across. Normally, we would find clever ways to throw bombs at them – fruitlessly but we love the big explosions – but we decide to let them do it. That route to empire space is burned anyway, may as well find some other way to get our stranded industrial pilots back in.

And so the hole collapses in front of our cloaked up eyes – and pretty sight and we scan away for new routes and adventures…. To be continued….

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