Wednesday, October 15, 2008

China Flex Goes Camping

Gate camping that is, and this week I've been on both sides of the gate.

Gate Camping Mk.1

I was doing a bit of mining down in zerozero space, the dangerous, utterly lawless outer reaches of the void where Concorde police vessels do not venture, out here the pilot corporations make their own laws.

One of our guys wanted to bring a freighter load of minerals from zerozero up into high sec space where he could sell them for a healthy profit, but intel coming in from fast covert ops ships said there were at least five nuetrals cloaked in one of the systems he needed to travel through. Nuetrals ? Well, on our onboard scanners friends show as green if they're in our own corp or blue if they are a member of our alliance (a group of corps), if a vessel belongs to an enemy corp or alliance they flash red, and anyone we don't either hate or love show up gray, or nuets.

So, we had a small nuetral pirate pack hanging around in a system we supposedly own, and how it works in zerozero is that if you're not blue then you're dead. A call went out for a fleet to form up and see them off, now sometimes organising your corp and alliance mates is like herding cats, they're all off doing their own thing and can't always respond, or they're just too far away to help, space is big.

Four brave souls answered the call, Ifinity, Revloc Nitrix, Alhammer and myself, China Flex. Between us we had a Stabber (a small fast ship), two weapons fitted battleships and a smaller cruiser. We warped in to the system, hoping that the pirate pack were not camping the gate we would arrive at. Intel had said that they had at least two battleships and support ships, if we flew strait into a fight we might well come off worse.

The first few seconds are fear filled, we come out of gate cloak, our ships materialising as if by magic, and head back to the gate. Gates spew jumping ships out in a randomised sphere 12-14k from the gate, clever pirates will sit further out than that so that drive interference from incoming ships won't knock down their own cloaks. Nastier pirates will sit up invisible anti-warp bubbles in line with frequesntly used warp destinations like moons and other gates, you set off into warp and drop out a few seconds later to find yourself surrounded by hostile ships.

I'm in a new ship, the Awesome Amelia, my previous Dominix battleship fell foul of drone fleets and cap vampires. Amelia's this sassy, short, cute waitress at the Gank Bar in the Royal Khanid Assembly Plant, Badifevi. I was sat moping and drowning my sorrows over the loss of Mr. Whippy when she strutted over and sat with me.

"Lost your ship ?", she poured a hefty slug of liquor into my glass, picked it up and knocked it back. "I can always tell."

"Yes, I've already got a new one though." I poured a shot for myself which she snatched and gulped down, cheeky sod.

"At least you still unpod, some of you pod pilots get hooked on your ships, they just retreat into their capsules, it's weird," she winked and stood up, petite in height and build, I'd once seen her throw a drunken Khanid flight Officer across a table. "Is it a he or a she ?"

"I havn't downloaded a personality yet." I poured another shot, and kept hold of the glass, I was intent on actually drinking some of the brandy I'd paid for.

"Make it a girl, call it after me, it'll bring you better luck," Amelia flicked her head back and pushed her hair away from her ear, briefly revealing the row of implants behind it. So she was either boosted, or a ex-capsuleer herself.

Here I am them, in the Awesome Amelia, sat at a gate watching friendly ships warp in and out. The pirate gang never did show themselves, we stood our guard for a few hours, debated dropping probes around the system to try and flush the pirates out and then decided not to as it would split out small force. Zerozero, it's always war down here, it's just that sometimes there isn't any shooting going on.

Gate Camping Mk.2

I've been waiting on the the upper side of a high sec to lo sec gate for ages in Awesome Amelia, waiting ever more impatiently for some to bring intel out from the two systems I want to travel through. Eventually I get twitchy and take us through the gate.

Mistake, big mistake, as soon as we enter the new system the local scanner picks up six enemy ships and no friendly blues. We're still under the gate's cloak, 12k out from the gate itself, there are three other gates in system and the enemy could be waiting anywhere, they might even be in visual range at the gate here.

-That put us right in the dung- said Amelia. I rather suspect that waitress Amelia has had herself copied as a ship personality, Mr. Whippy was like a supportive best mate, the Amelia is a strident, sarcastic prescence in my mind, cocky and self assured, almost perfect for a battleship personality I suppose.

"Yes thanks," if it was possible to mumble when mindlinked I'd be mumbling. I clear my thoughts. "Activate our own cloak as soon as the gate cloak drops."

-Roger that captain, wise choice-

We waited, the cloaked dropped and Amelia put our cloak up right away, it was seamless.

"Right, head back to the gate Amelia"

-Full speed ahead my captain- Battleships are not exactly speed demons at the best of times, with a cloak in operation you can only run your engines at about ten percent of top speed, otherwise the drive interferes with the cloak and everyone can see you again.

Ahead of us a smaller ship appeared in a blaze of light from warping, an interdictor, an enemy interdictor, bugger. Dictors are designed to stop other ship's engines and jump drives from working, we could uncloak and try to take him on, but his friends were probably sat pointed at this gate, if we tried to kill him they'd jump in and we'd be dead. Only one thing for it, moving at 12m/s we crawled back towards the jump gate.

The dictor flew to within 4 k's of the gate and began orbitting in a spinning loop, every pass was a few hundred metres wider than the last, if he got within a couple of kilometres of us his drives would knock down our shields, then there would be a short fight one against six, and we'd be dead.

-That was close- she said as the Dictor made a close pass. I stayed silent, you don't sweat in the fluid of a capsule but it felt like I was, the ship looped past us closer again and then, he must have got bored, the dictor warped off back to join his invisible friends. We couldn't pick up on the local scan where he'd dropped out of warp and that was good news, he wasn't within strike range then. I ordered the cloak down and the engine boosters on and we ran back to the gate as fast as we could.

Back in high sec space with the welcome shapes of Concorde ships in the near distance I sighed. Amelia was humming or whispering something, damn, this ship hs too much personality, what was that ? Some ancient Earth comedy thing she dug up in some ancient archive.

-sir robin bravely ran away - Is that what she said, damn ship, what in the name of a Gallente Jumpclone is that supposed to mean ?

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