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It was a fairly dull lunch break for me in our home wormhole, “Moe”. There were no roaming or inbound wormholes at home.  Our static connection had just gone end-of-life, with less than four hours left before it disappears, and it possessed only a single high-security connection exiting near “Dodixie” — a trade hub damn close to the ass-end of nowhere in Eve.  There were no local residents in our static connection, and those in the high-security system seemed supremely disinterested in checking out the wormhole in their system.

Finally, all of my corp-mates and alliance-mates who lived in our system were offline.  There were a few members of the alliance who lived in other systems available, but the nature of wormholes is such that unless we plan an organized operation together in advance, it’s usually a tremendous logistical challenge to get people together.

Usually, if you see me, you can be certain I have at least several gang-mates waiting nearby to help out if there’s trouble.  But this time, I decided to do something solo. Checking on the status of our war-targets at the time and finding them all offline, I decided to chance a run to Dodixie to refit my stealth bomber, then take my bomber on a “Security Status Safari”:

I’d been using a Small Ancillary Armor Repairer fit on my Purifier stealth bomber, and found the damage and survivability a bit lacking.  The GTFO ability (if out of scram range) is excellent, and I’m sure the local repper is unexpected in a fight, but usually I’m lobbing torpedos at range anyway and don’t tend to be primaried.  So I hauled this fit of Purifier over to Dodixie to get it ready for a refit.  I usually fit implants for a bit of extra CPU power when flying my stealth bomber; I enjoy the flexibility. I also tend to keep my core probe launcher offline until needed, but given my love of wormholes & exploration, I prefer it over a very limited-utility bomb.

[Purifier, Solopew]

Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Ballistic Control System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Warp Disruptor II

Prototype ‘Arbalest’ Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Torpedo
Prototype ‘Arbalest’ Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Torpedo
Prototype ‘Arbalest’ Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Torpedo
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Core Probe Launcher I

Small Warhead Calefaction Catalyst I
Small Warhead Calefaction Catalyst I

And replaced it with this one:

[Purifier, Roamer]

Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II

1MN Afterburner II
Medium Azeotropic Ward Salubrity I
Faint Warp Disruptor I

Prototype ‘Arbalest’ Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Torpedo
Prototype ‘Arbalest’ Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Torpedo
Prototype ‘Arbalest’ Torpedo Launcher, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Torpedo
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Core Probe Launcher I, Sisters Core Scanner Probe

Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Processor Overclocking Unit I

There are trade-offs to both approaches.  Given that I was going on safari for sec status, evading gate camps, and hoping for some opportunistic kills, I felt like the second fit would help me accomplish my more general-purpose approach a little better, and had flown a very similar fit for a very long time previously.  I planned to swap out a target painter for the warp disruptor at stations as needed.

After refitting, I found the closest low-security system to Dodixie and started my lunchtime safari.

And dropped right into a gate camp.

There were at least twenty Tornados parked at their optimal, and a half-dozen interceptors orbiting the gate at a very high speed in an attempt to decloak.  They looked like members of the local faction warfare militia, but not being part of the enemy militia was no protection.  Given the opportunity, either side of the militia will gladly blow up a neutral for an extra kill on the board.

One of the most important lessons I learned in my faction warfare corp as a newbie 3 days into the game was “hold gate cloak”. I could almost hear the words of my FW mentors ringing in my head.

Stop and watch what’s going on. You have thirty seconds to figure out what you’re going to do; take a deep breath to calm your heart rate. You’re not necessarily going to die if you’re smart.  Try to be smart, not hasty.

So I paused and took a deep breath. As I watched the interceptors buzz furiously around the gate, I realized their pattern was a parallel to an arcade game I’d played when I was very young: Dragon’s Lair.

Dragon’s Lair was a game all about timing. And animation, and the new “laserdisc” technology, but really, mostly about timing.  And maybe enormous frustration, and draining your pocket of quarters as fast as possible.

But still. Timing.

Parts of the screen would flash, and you would have to twitch in response in very short order. After feeding enough quarters in, you could eventually beat the game, but it would be mostly muscle memory from figuring out the patterns of the game.  And the pattern of these interceptors reminded me viscerally of the “Paddle challenge” in Dragon’s Lair (at 3:30, for those watching the video): I could find a hole through their orbits if I waited for the right moment.

I located a nearby celestial that should not require much alignment time, my finger hovering over the “warp to” button. The interceptors streaked past.

Whoosh.

Whoosh.

Whoosh.

Whoosh.

“Go time,” I muttered, jammed the “warp” key, then turned on my cloak.  Several seconds crept by. An interceptor clearly saw me and burned toward near where I had been moments earlier, but he wasn’t going to cover 10KM to my position in less than three seconds.

“Warp drive active”, chimed Aura, and the gate camp faded into a blur as I flew toward a planet. Chancing fate, I decided to go ahead and kill at least one rat in this system.  Warped to a belt, spied a battleship accompanied by only a single frigate. Volleyed the frigate into oblivion, and soloed the Gurista battleship down within a minute. Blew up the wrecks, cloaked up again, and headed to the next system.

This pattern repeated itself as I blew through numerous low-security systems with my autopilot set to some random Guristas null-sec and “pick least safe” as my autopilot setting.  With reasonable piloting, I evaded a total of five lowsec gate camps — the same Tornado/interceptor gang three times — and two bubble camps on my way toward my random nullsec destination, ratting off and on the whole way.

I also discovered a hard stop: Certain Gurista battleships in -0.8 space and below have a tank that’s too tough for my Purifier to solo anymore, and some frigates move so fast that I can’t break their tanks either. And jams are irritating as heck. I think I’m just going to avoid Angels and Guristas rats from now on in this particular bomber.

Meanwhile, some of my alliance-mates had logged on.  I was nearing the end of my lunch break, and I kind of wanted to get back somewhere that I’d risk fewer competent nullsec gate camps on the way home.  Pyiere and Gumby mentioned that their home system for Broken Wheel — our training corp for Illusion of Solitude — had a chain that included a null-security system and a very high-security system. On a lark, I asked them to link to the systems in question.

What do you know. Here over twenty jumps into nullsec, there was an alliance-controlled anoiki just seven jumps away that put New Caldari just nine jumps away.  We fleeted up, set up some warp-ins, and after using my new-found D-scan skills to locate the old starbase, I discovered I’d left a few ships in the SMA!  They were cheap frigates, but still, it made me laugh that months later my old stuff is still sitting in the hangar.

I borrowed an Anathema to scan my way out to high-security space — the Purifier is a decent scanner with good equipment, but is not made for the job — then helped Gumby with security and transport for a couple of supply runs as a “thank you” for helping me get out of deep null during my lunch break.  Eventually I navigated back out to high-sec myself, and logged off, planning to find a way back home later in the evening.

Sometimes, like when trying to organize alliance-wide operations on short notice, the logistics of being part of a wormhole alliance are frustrating. Other times, like today, it is incredibly convenient and oft-overlooked by the general playerbase. Because the reality is, no matter where you are in New Eden, if you keep your eyes open and have sufficient people scanning down nearby wormhole chains, you’re almost certainly pretty close to wherever you actually want to be!

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