Monday, November 16, 2009

The Back Alley - Second Day's End

It's been a long 48 hours thus far enveloped in the myriad colors of our little class 1 w-space.  After I discovered the uninhabited system, Casiella gave me the order to stay in it and keep my probes running their locating algorithms until the corporation could establish its presence.  Scanning was an addiction for me according to some of the other corp-mates, and for the most part they were correct.  However, scanning in a wormhole and scanning systems down in high security are a little bit different.

For one, scanning in high-sec gave me fewer places to explore but limitless systems to choose from, whereas in the Back Alley there are many signatures but once discovered they are not quick to change, and I was limited to the one system.  I did get plenty of experience working with combat probes, however, so I have little to complain about aside from the boredom of scanning constantly while waiting out the arrival of Casiella and her small POS equipment.

It only took a couple of hours to get the site set up initially.  After the force field went up, I went to work scanning down the other cosmic signatures present in the area, thankful for the safety as I could not yet cloak.  The rest of the corp took a break in the control tower for a few hours while I sat alone in space.  At first, I was absolutely fine with that, but after completely identifying, bookmarking, and yawning at all of the signatures I began to get a little stir crazy.  I was not permitted to leave the wormhole because at the moment I was still the only scanner, and I had to stay in the case of our known entrance collapsing on us.  I ended up joining the other corp members in the control tower for about an hour just to stretch my muscles a bit.

... 1 Hour Later...

By the time I made it back out into space, a couple more of the corp mates had returned refreshed as well and we chattered excitedly about our new starbase for a few minutes until Casiella re-appeared and continued setting up the position.  She mounted a few more defensive weapons, anchored a few containers, and then had me and Moare assist with the testing of access rights to the starbase equipment.

After it was all set up, systems online and looking in order, I moved in a couple of ships of my own: Delorian, a Procurer, and Serrated Seraphim, a Myrmidon.  The myrm was my first battlecruiser, and had barely survived the previous wormhole experiences she had shared with me, but we were learning and had improved our fit a bit.  The Procurer had never even seen use, though I'd had it for several months.  After moving in my ships, and realizing that no one else was still around, I decided it was the perfect time to go pick up my cloaking skill book and modules.  Forty jumps later I was nestled safely back in the starbase and I decided to get some sleep while I could.

... 6 Hours Later ...

Once all was good and right in the world of Caels, I set off to the nearest gravimetric site in Delorian and landed right on top of several Sleeper frigates and cruisers.  Uh oh!  Bounce, bounce, bounce!  Come on baby, turn around!  The Sleepers had closed on me already, and I imagined their robotic glee and saliva spewing forth in the form of hydraulic leakage as they opened fire.  Searing beams of light leapt at me from several directions and I nearly panicked as I saw my shields vanish instantly and a small portion of my armor melt.

"Warp Drive, Active," came the call from Aura, and we sped off to safety as a final volley of light slammed into my backside disintegrating the remainder of my armor.  Panting into my comms that I was safe, I could just sense the scolding I was about to get from the boss lady.  Maybe she was laughing on the inside or something, because that scolding never came.  All that was said was that all mining ops needed an escort, and she let me off the hook.

After my little debacle, I decided to go back to my Serrated Seraphim and try my hand at defending the other miners.  I warped off to another gravimetric site to find that it was empty, and had Moare warp to me and start chewing rocks.  Then I warped out for a moment to check the status of our wormhole, and warped back in at 100km from the miner.  Casiella retired to the control tower once more, and the miners and I were the only things alive in the Back Alley for a time.

By a time, I mean about 10 minutes, perhaps less.  I noticed a Tengu suddenly pop in on the far side of Moare from me, followed closely by a Stabber, Navy Issue, and then a third ship that I didn't both to get the details on.  "Shit, Moare, get the hell out of there now," I screamed into the comms.  Kiithilurin, swore into his comms as he had just begun to warp to our location.  I was too far out to even try to intervene, and swore again as Moare's Retriever listed to the side and finally crumbled beneath the onslaught.

I warped back to the starbase, arriving only seconds before Moare's pod, and less than a minute before Kiith's pod.  I immediately switched to my Helios, Awkward Glance, and set about launching my combat probes and scanning down the area.  It took me a several minutes to get the different signals pinned, but I could tell we had 5 visitors, 2 of which approached our starbase like curious animals.  I watched as the Tengu and Stabber vanished into a spot I didn't recognize on the solar map, which upon further narrowing revealed a new wormhole.  A Wolf class vessel snooped around our starbase for several minutes before finally vanishing as well, but he had revealed to us that our defenses were not reacting the way they should have.  He had closed within 80km of our starbase and not been targeted by the artillery.

One by one, the signatures disappeared into the newly discovered wormhole, and I spent another 10 minutes or so watching for any signs of life besides our own.  I was also still in the process of learning to use cloaking modules, so I could not yet investigate the new wormhole safely.  We lamented the losses of our two Retrievers and Kiith decided to get some rest.

A short while later, my training on cloaking had finally completed enough that I could use the prototype module I had purchased, and I fit it to my ship.  Immediately, I went to check out the new wormhole and discovered it was a Class 2.  I popped in and took a look around, finding only one other ship in the system, and that one left within a few minutes.  I scanned down the signatures in the system, finding a few combat sites and 2 other cosmic signature that I didn't bother with.  The wormhole to leading back to our space was already disrupted from the group of mercenaries who had violated our retrievers earlier, so I decided that deeper exploration might not be the best idea.

Moare was getting impatient to find something to kill, so I agreed to bring him back to the Class 2 with me and let him blow stuff up.  I stayed in the Awkward Glance just in case we lost the portal, until Moare asked me to grab the Serrated Seraphim and come help him clean up.  He had a launcher but no salvager, and the Myrmidon had a salvager and no launcher.  We decided to forego my scanning speed for the clean up speed, and I brought in the Myrm, and another corp mate joined us in cleaning up sites.  We only found 3 out of the 5 sites still alive, but it was probably for the best, as just as I was cleaning up the salvage from the last site combat probes spread out over Moare's d-scan and he recalled us to the wormhole.

We had a minor issue with the wormhole not wanting to let our friend back through, but eventually he made it through and we all returned to the starbase safely.  I deposited the loot and salvage to the corporate hangar and switched back over to the Awkward Glance to ensure we had no new signatures.  Casiella's ship appeared once more on my comms indicators, and I swallowed hard as I began to tell her of the loss of the Retrievers.  She wasn't very happy with us at all, and proceeded to interrogate us about the how's and why's of the situation.  To my sensibilities, the loss was monetary only and easily replaced, but to her it seemed it was a waste and a loss based on the principles of survival in the wormhole.

We collectively re-iterated our understanding of proper operating procedures, while Moare attempted to shine some light on the stuff that went well that day rather than the losses, but she didn't bite and the subject remained unchanged for a few minutes yet.  Still, we reported our success at the sites, the potential ISK we had earned, and the fact that our starbase wasn't defending itself.

After Casiella determined the problem with the defenses, Chainer finally arrived and provided me with some more entertainment as Moare, Casiella and the others all retired to the tower for the night.  We chatted for a bit before we decided to do some mining.  We searched around the gravimetric sites for a fight, and Chainer allowed me to test my fit against the Sleepers by myself.  For the first time ever I was able to hold my own against 3 frigates and 2 cruisers all alone, inspiring confidence in myself and pride in Chainer.

The battle complete, Chainer warped in his Trash Compactor, a Cormorant with the sole purpose of eating wreckage, and proceeded to clean up the mess.  Then I put Delorian to her first real use, alongside Chainer's Ravenous Muncher, and we mined Arkonor for the better part of a few hours, driving Chainer's sanity to the brink.  He had me switch ships and scan down signatures in the hopes of something to shoot, but failing to find anything new, he decided to spare his mentality and get some rest.  I continued mining alone in the depths of the w-space, surrounded by the blues and oranges of our Cataclysmic Variable, for another hour or so before finally, I needed rest as well.

So the end of the second day was much like the beginning of the first: lonely, peaceful, and breath-taking.  while the w-space life can be boring, I've had great fun with it so far, and I've learned much in a very short amount of time, and I look forward to serving out more time in my capsule.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cruiser Crunch in W-Space

Well, I had my first foray into the deep, unknown reaches of space tonight. Let me tell you up front that a Sleeper frigate in W-Space is almost the equivalent of a cruiser. Another thing I learned about Sleepers tonight: Guerrilla tactics don't work so well.

With most things in New Eden, if you are taking a lot of punishment and you need a quick repairing break, you can warp away, let your buddies take some aggression, repair a bit, warp back and rejoin the fight and slip amongst the battle unnoticed. Those Sleepers are some smart cookies, though. Even if I was minding my own business--floating around and enjoying the visual spectacles of wormholes--while Chainer Cygnus was shredding through Sleeper armor like an Amarr in a room full of Minmatar children, the Sleepers wanted me dead and they made plenty of fuss about it.

Well, no problem, I can take a few hits from a battleship and 4 frigates. I actually made a half-decent tank for all of about 30 seconds before I'd have to warp back to my wormhole bookmark and spend several minutes repairing my armor and letting my shields power back up a bit. At this point, in most battles, Chainer would have established his superiority and I would have just hopped back into the fray barely noticed by the deadly Sleepers. Wrong! The moment I left warp all eyes turned to me; savages hungry for the kill.

I basically played this game of tag throughout every battle in our little space amongst space, effectively rendering me entirely ineffective. However, I did manage to make myself useful a bit later as the only salvage-capable ship remaining towards the end of the raid, as our pilots started needing rest.

Needless to say, as soon as we evacuated the wormhole, I obtained the skill book for battle cruisers and I'm currently training that to the second tier. I also picked up my first Helios, and fitted it out with a probe launcher and attempted scanning for the first time. It was definitely a different side of piloting, and one that I think I'm going to enjoy immensely. Which is probably for the best because, apparently, Chainer despises the scanning process.

The more time I spend as a capsuleer, the more interesting it gets.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Libraries and Gate Camps and Can Flips, Oh My!

Well, my friends, this weekend was certainly eventful for both me and my Caldari companion, and I'll introduce you to my money maker for the first time.

The Lethal Library

I'll start with her tale, since it is short, and the pain easily sympathized.  Kechara Rye, that silly minx, went and bought herself 13 new skill books all at once.  Millions of ISK spent all in one big shot, she floated on towards the system of purchase in her naked Navitas.  Aura warned her when she went into the system, that it was low security, but what else could she do but retrieve her library from the clutches of pirate space.  Well she could have asked for help, but that's beside the point.

She made it into the system very easily, no problems, no pirates, and she let out a great big sigh as she nestled her Navitas into the station's docking bay.  The dock hands had her 13 skill books all packaged up and ready for pickup.  She double checked her inventory and then sped on her way back towards the safety of high security.  When this was over, she would be very glad to be safe and secure once again.

Kechara didn't like low security one bit.  She didn't like me calling her a carebear either, but if the pod fits...

As she glided back through her warp bubble to the gate that would lead her to safety, Kechara drooled over the hoard of knowledge she would soon be pouring through.  The Navitas dropped out of warp just outside of jump range for the gate, and she moved for it quickly.  Alas, not quickly enough.  Out of nowhere the shots came, slamming into her naked Navitas round after round, shaking the tiny ship so much that she couldn't even get her bearings.  Within moments, the ship was destroyed and her pod floated amidst the wreckage.  Swearing vehemently, she willed her pod back to high sec, where she brought up comms with yours truly and vented quite harshly.

I gave Kechara some advice on trying to run through low sec and survive, and actually got an apology for her loss of temper; shocking from a Caldari, but true none-the-less.  I could feel her pain, especially considering my first trip in a Vexor ended badly with a bit less than 30m ISK lost, but such is life in New Eden and hopefully she has learned from the incident.

Experience Learned is Experience Earned

Shortly before leaving ASPOT, my friend Ralcoss had tugged me out to null sec and given me some very handy advice for traveling in relative safety.  He had me power off my weapons and equip warp stabbers to all of my low slots (5 in the Thorax), and I had already known to turn off my auto target back.  The powering off of the weapons wasn't strictly necessary, but with all those warp stabbers, I didn't have enough power for the rest of my ship.  We weren't interested in a fight; it was all about escape and evasion.

Well, only a few days after Ralcoss' helpful insights, I got to put them to use for myself.  I was trekking my way through Placid's null-sec tracking down a skill book I had purchased.  Enroute to a stargate, I got caught in a warp bubble with lots of pretty, floaty, dead things all around me.  My first act:  In the local comms I shout out, "Someone left their warp bubble out here."  It wasn't an intentional cry for abuse, but in retrospect it was rather humorous.

Moments later, I catch a glimpse of a Helios just before it vanishes behind a cloak.  Ah-hah!  So it's not abandoned...  Let's move!  I immediately set my Thorax to warp to a belt that was out of line with the gate and warp bubble.  Thankfully there was one, otherwise I might have been screwed.  I warped off and laughed quietly to myself as Aura informed me that he was trying to warp scramble me.  As soon as I left warp, I set warp for the gate once more and waved at the Helios as I jumped through.

After jumping, once the systems had all come back online and started showing me my surroundings, I saw several nice flashy red things moving towards me.  Luckily, this was the system in which my precious skill book was waiting and there was only one station.  I managed to swing my ship about and get into warp just as the second volley of shots dropped my shield to about 60% strength.  Once more, I laughed to myself and waved goodbye to my aggressors as my warp bubble enveloped me.

Just for fun, I tossed a jibe into local comms telling them, "nice try!"  I received no response.  After docking and injecting my skill, I decided not to tempt fate and I chatted with some friends for a while before I retired for the evening... well, it was morning in Eve Standard Time, but the beauty of living among the stars is that we set our own biological schedules.

Mining: A Good Day to Die

Greetin's, strangers.  I'm not willin' to impart my real name 'cept to those I trust, but ya can call me L, or whatever the hell ya want.  I mine.  It's a shitty job with no additional benefits, but the pay is very good if'n you know where to look.  Most of the time it's just plain boring, but it is my duty to refill Caels' pockets when 'e goes and gets 'imself blow'd up like a moron.  And don't ya think otherwise, 'e is indeed a moron, but most people seem to like 'im well enough.  Maybe they's morons too, I dunno, and I don't care.

Anyhow, I don't reckon ya'll wanna hear me talk much, but I got me a decent story the past few days, so I'ma flap my gums at ya anyway.  I've been 'round a mite longer than most might think, seein' as this is my first tellin'.

I's out mining, minding my own, when this 'ere thievin' Drake comes and flips my can on me.  Now, I seen 'im coming, an' I towed in all my drones 'cuz I knew what he was after.  I got no weapons fitted to my barge, 'cuz that's jus' stupid, an' I even had myself two little asteroids locked so I couldn't even have locked onto this 'ere freak 'less I wanted.  I also had my can open to me the whole time, so I know 'e didn't pull a fast one on me, but somehow 'e opened fire on me, blow'd up my baby in only a few shots, an' them CONCORD fellas didn't do a thing.

Somehow, 'spite all my precautions, when I tried to rescue what ore I could from 'is clutches, it dinged me red to 'im.  I jus' don't get it.  Anyhow, it don't really matter none, I only spent 3 million on the ship an' equipment an' a million on the insurance for a 5 million payout.  All that together meant I made myself a nice million just from gettin' blow'd up.  Top it off with a boon from the corp when they gave me another barge, fully fitted for free... ahh, a good day to die.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

At Home Among the Stars

My first venture into 0.0 space was rather short, but not a bad turnaround from it.

A corps-mate, Ralcoss, after giving me a short lecture on why my wanting to join some pirate friends was disappointing, was kind enough to drag my sorry pirate-loving arse to ASPOT's little pocket of CVA space.

For clarification, my corporation's philosophy on what makes one a pirate is probably drastically different from that of people who actually call themselves pirates.  According to ASPOT, the unprovoked killing of people in null-sec is piracy, and I will be banished from the corporation if I partake in such activities.  According to the people I wanted run off and play with, namely Casiella, Chainer Cygnus, and Denovin Zyrinax, it's just life in null-sec.  I believe Casiella's exact words were, "I'm not a pirate!  I'm a trader with a pirate's heart... and Chainer is 'unfocused'," to which Chainer only agreed.  I didn't get Denovin's take on it, because he likes to sleep while I'm harassing everyone else in New Eden.  Bastard.  Get a New Eden Life!

Back to the story!  After changing the subject to steer it away from Ralcoss' dissertation on the evils of piracy and the corporation's take on good morals, I convinced Ralcoss to make the 26 jumps or so back to high security to haul me back to null security with him.  He played scout for me as went slowly from system to system, watching for gate camps and reds.  The trip itself was rather uneventful for the most part.  After arriving in 0.0, we only encountered one gate camping blob (my first blob encounter!) in our route.  We ended up docking for about 15 minutes while the camp fire was getting doused and we moved along.

Upon reaching our "pocket" Ralcoss showed me the major POS and stations, as well as a nifty jump bridge that would make the trip a bit easier next time.  After acquiring the passwords and bookmarking locations around the groups of systems, we jumped in on top of a group of pirates.  Two battleships and three frigates against us, a single cruiser and battleship, seemed like a fair fight so we decided to keep on them.

Well, I quickly discovered that when two battleships and three frigates primary a cruiser... it frigging hurts!  Apparently, I was doing more damage than my Dominix counterpart as he had only drones at the time, and I made a good target.  I warped out just as they broke my armor about 50%, and let Ralcoss take some of the heat again.

I warped back in right on top of the frigates and took them out with my drones, as my rail guns weren't posing much of a threat to them at less than 10km.  They fell slowly, but before my shields broke again, and I quickly threw on my afterburners and maneuvered myself around some giant asteroids that were keeping me from the battleships.  At about 50km out I threw my drones forward and discovered my control limit was about 40km.  No big deal, 10km at 380m/s... still waiting... still waiting... damn finally!  Go, go, gadget Hammerheads!

I opened fire as my drones closed in, and I grinned smugly as the other battleship, which had been fending off Ralcoss' drones, exploded and quickly went dark.  Now with 10 drones and my rail guns all over him, the remaining battleship stood little chance.  She went down valiantly, fighting to the death.  I gave them a moment of silence while I bounced from wreck to wreck looting and salvaging.  Having never ratted below 0.5 security before, I had expected much more from the looting and salvaging, but alas it was very similar.

A few moments later, however, the big difference between 0.5 and 0.0 became instantly clear when my neocom blinked at me about a deposit.  I opened up the wallet on the neocom and nearly choked on my pod fluid as I saw a nice fat 950k ISK deposit from bounties.  Null sec rocks!  I can't wait to get some more action, and hopefully some good fights.

I feel that at this time it is probably prudent to give ASPOT the warning that I'm still planning on helping my friends out in their "piracy" endeavors, and I had hoped that I could remain with ASPOT, as I don't consider it piracy.  Since it truly seems to be a problem, then I'm sorry...  You guys have been a fantastic corporation, very helpful and fun, but I'm looking for more activity and to get myself blown up over stupid stuff.  I will keep all of you on my buddy list and I will go out of my way to not have to kill you guys if you wander into BKAT's area, but I can't stop a corporation function, and I won't back out of something I'm already committed to.

I will say this about ASPOT, if you need a friendly corporation with a range of activities and are willing to adhere to the NRDS (Not Red, Don't Shoot) lifestyle even in null-sec, then ASPOT is a great place for you.

To BKAT I present a warning:  I hope you are ready for a fairly active pilot who wants to do just about everything in New Eden.  I'm brash, sometimes crazy, and I love nothing more than spending hours covered in pod fluid with some good people flying nearby, each helping tear a path through the cosmos.