As I power up my ship’s systems, the date display mocks me more pointedly than Automaton ever did. February 5th. Four days have passed with out any combat activity, much less kills. Fifty kills. I can already feel the tug of my inner oppressiveness fixating.
I can’t just undock and fly into the fray. There is setup for secure com channels, authorization needed for Automaton as a scout, and you know, stuff. I find myself reading the rules again and my stomach turning. The rules are simple and boil down to “be considerate.” A very reasonable thing, and really, it isn’t the prospect of conforming to a dictated code of conduct, but simply the reality that I will have to work with others – that tears at me. I mean I work with Automaton all the time, but it is kind of hard to count that as building up experience in social interactions.
Initially I’m just trying to figure out where my alliance mates are and what the SOP is rather than hunting down targets. I leave Automaton behind to sort herself out, and make my way into Sobaskei as alliance coms warn of a target crashing the gate.
I land with 5 other pilots and we just missed an Enyo. Am I officially a trade hub camper now? The alliance actually does a lot to encourage their pilots to hunt, but when there are over 2 dozen war targets sitting in Jita 4-4 it seems almost neglectful to not try and intercept some of them.
Five minutes later, scouts report a Macherial battle ship attempting to leave Jita VIA the Perimeter gate. I’ve been active less than 7 minutes; the pace is overwhelming. We get waived off in route as the pilot is no longer a valid war target. With over 100 wars there are bound to be some expiring. I wonder if this pilot realizes the margin by which he escaped.
I warp off gate to a citadel and try to help kick start Automaton into her scouting role. She is having trouble interfacing with the alliance channels. Luckily, before I’m saddled with assisting in logistical matters, an Algo destroyer jumps the gate and I take the short warp to join the fight. I make the pod kill. Empty pod, but it is my first kill of the month and first kill as a Marmite.
As I try and contemplate the significance, or lack there of, Automaton finally gets her systems synced up and her standings adjust. She can now see our enemies, and without prompting, begins sweeping across Caldari space.
Her independence is a blessing as a Tengu is caught and ping-ponged across the Jita-Prim system gates. He manages to get his cloak to engage and is lost to us. A few minutes later he reenters Jita from the Niyabainen gate. Comms is full of chuckles as someone proclaims “That cheeky bastard.” Active comms? Camaraderie? Interesting.
Needing to slow the pace down and give myself some time to acclimate to pod life, I pull out towards the Piak mission hub area. Should I tell someone I’m doing that? Sure, why not? “O.k.” … and I got a response. O.K. This can work.
Automaton spots an Arazu in Piak, but is just passing through and at a good speed. I went for it anyway, and they simply cloaked and ignored my feebleness. Alliance comm chatter dies down as the shift change approaches and people begin to go offline.
Three war targets in Litura, and all from the same corp. I start to get excited as this might be something worth … and there they go in shuttles.
I move up to the Litura gate (in Uemi) anyway as it is a good choke point. My overview is different somehow. A blue star, what’s a blue star? My confusion is fleeting as recognition of the alliance symbol crystallizes. I quietly join my fellow Marmite in their gate camp.
I’m luckily spared the awkwardness of trying to interact with my wing mate and develop “camaraderie”, when comms erupts with report of a tackled Obelisk back in Sobaskei. You know, the system I just left. Freighters are even more special than an Orca and I’ve been known to go through some effort for an Orca kill. Freighters can take a while to go down so there is a chance I’ll make it there in time, and maybe I can actually be useful in covering the loot ship or something. Automaton’s silence once again mocks my rationalization, as apparently I’m already feeling bad about whoring on kill mails I don’t even have.
The enemy pilot, one Obelisk Camel, is very much not flying an Obelisk freighter but a Stratios Cruiser. Obelisk, either in desperation or out of frustration, drops comms leaving his ship unpowered. Due to the disconnect, Kikah is able to hold him long enough for me to steal some of the credit on the kill mail. There is some concern over the likelihood of the escape pod actually escaping while under automated controls and a call for a prober goes out. Three of us hold the ship in place with scrams and disruptors with restraint as we wait for the prober to arrive.
Truth be told, I don’t have much restraint as I do fire off a volley of missiles. You see, the Stratios had begun to regen some shields and … what? I already admitted I failed at the restraint thing. The enemy pilot manages to get back online, and the need for such restraint passes. Stratios (1.3 b ISK, Loot: 884 m ISK) pod (empty).
There is back and forth over loot distribution which I gladly bail out of, happy to just get on the kill mail. The dispute seems lighthearted on the surface but there is some serious undertones; “well, that just discourages me from fleeting up with you then.” I successfully stay out of it, but I would feel bad taking a cut personally.
Things are a bit slow as the shift change continues and I find myself reflecting on how such a small number of pilots are effectively disrupting the logistics of so many. But, Automaton still not having much patience for my moments of reflection, reports war targets in Litura. I head to the Uemi-Lit gate and once again find myself joining my fellow Marmite silently in a gate camp. I ponder his selection of a Garmur Frig, as I’ve always wanted to try one of those.
Once again I’m spared any awkward attempts at coordination by a war target jumping into us. My combat sensors register the Garmur’s lock well before mine, but I lock and get point as well. He is 15k off and I’m worried he’ll crash the gate. My worries are quickly put to rest as he red boxes me. I approach as explosive rings envelope his shields from my first missile volley. A Celestis cruiser? I make a mental note to look up the ship type.
He is attempting to sensor dampen me and sick drones on the Garmur. Not a bad plan of action really; take me out of the fight and pop the Gurmon. Of course, the sensor dampening doesn’t do anything once I already have lock, and I do. Celestis (26m ISK, 8.5m ISK Loot) He didn’t make much effort to get his empty pod out. I notice a yellow flashy Gaurdian on scene and it appears he is repairing the Gurmur. Is he one of ours? I guess I shouldn’t shoot him.
My queries are met with confusion. “Not my Guardian.” “A random guardian?” “Maybe it was a blue, they sometimes rep us.” What? Random reps from passing logi on gates? That’s pretty sweet and unexpected. All attempts to give the guy his share of the loot fail as he doesn’t seem to understand what I’m talking about. I wonder if he even realized I was there, but finally my own realization kicks in. There are two people who’s name start with “General.” But, it is quite clear neither of them care about 4 mil isk.
I’m pretty excited about a kill I actually contributed too, but before I can finish that thought, a call goes out for a Phobos, Proteus, and Guardian team that are working in The Forge region. There is a lot of dithering and back and forth about how to bait them but in the end we send me (the new guy in a shield buffer fit Tengu) and a Sacrilege (Active Armor) in as bait with a single neutral Guardian nearby. For back up, we got a Balghorn battleship (as our anti-logi platform) and another Sacrilege.
Automaton’s silence underscored my own personal feelings about using a shield buffer as bait with an armor logi but I’m not going in alone. And that may have been the problem as the enemy ran rather than even thinking about taking the bait. We did grab a rookie ship (and pod) on the way back. The kill-board counts it, but I can’t bring myself to.
Things seem to finally wind down with just a few failed bait attempts and pot shots around Jita and the never ending stream of interceptors streaming down the trade pipe. It is far later than I realized, and I’m overdue. I didn’t call Squeaky to give her a heads up, so there goes all that credit I built up over the last few months for staying home. That didn’t last long.
Determined to find her own prey and actually hunt down a target, Automaton continued to roam the backwaters of Caldari space. And 2 hours later, I was aware of two things: first, you apparently can’t bank credit for being around like a “normal person”; and second, there was a mining barge in space that needed my attention. Procurer (27m ISK, 4m ISK loot) pod (empty).
“die with child and parent” – Qzzz LUKA
That might actually be my first pure hate mail. Usually there is at least some discussion point. I’ve always been amused at the expression “your tears fuel my ship”, but never thought of myself as personifying that. But, I’ll abashedly admit, that mail made me down right giddy.
Tally: 3 kills (9 counting empty pods and the rookie ship)