Monday, December 15, 2014

Late Night Squirrels

Our public lounge was slowly emptying out - today had been one of our more successful roams, and people had stuck around for a while afterwards.

It hadn’t been all roses and sunshine - in the beginning, glitches in the recently upgraded fluid router software had interfered with standard fleet maneuvers; and later on, one fleet member made his displeasure known about the fact that there were bloody rookies in the fleet. Not that he minded rookies - as long as they got some training in fleets with veterans before flying with him. The fact that especially this roam was one of such training fleets, had completely eluded him. Or something. Either way, he turned out to be one the few people we’d gladly not have on our roams, no matter how good a combat pilot he was.

Anyway. I had left the roam about four hours in, due to a sudden drop in concentration. Two hours later - I had taken a nap in the meantime - they were just about done docking up. Not bad for a roam with a large contingent of newly certified pilots!

But as much as we welcomed our rookies, the day had been long, and we were looking forward to spending some time amongst ourselves. So while we didn’t made them feel unwelcome nor ignored them, alliance members did start wandering out of the lounge in twos and threes, taking care of their own business, some returning, some not.

Our small group had commandeered a side table in our lounge, where we chatted about everything and nothing. I was having a conversation with Naava about catnip, of all things, and its effects on the various kinds of cat species on our home worlds, when suddenly my ears registered my name.

“…Druur might be more interested.”

I looked up sharply. “What?”

“I was just complimenting Rogue here,” Dai shot our scout a look, “about his new sexy looks, but I don’t think he quite got the hint. So I wondered, maybe I should see if you’re interested.”

Dai was a faction warfare veteran, and one of our latest recruits. And kinda cute.

*Uhm*

To stall, I took a sip from my arcturian mega-ale, but even so all I could come up with was: “You really don't know me, do you.”

She winked at me. “Perhaps I want to know…”

I was trying to form a response, when she suddenly chuckled. “I only jest. I can’t help myself.” She raised her glass, and I returned the gesture.

*Uhm*

The discreet vibration of my communicator saved me. I glanced apologetically at the people around me, and looked at my pad.

It was a message from Forttrain, one of our new recruits. [ Darth Yayo - does anyone want to come help me kill him? That’s the guy who killed me the other night. ]

Almost immediately, another message came in. This one from John, asking if I had seen Forttrain’s message.

Standing up, I excused myself and walked to the exit, while cracking my knuckles.

Nothing like a little revenge impromptu fleet to close out the day with!

---------

“…of course, it had been a long shot to begin with.” I mentioned on comms.

The plan had been sound - send in Forttrain to bait Darth Yayo out of the station, have him make the killright available to us, and we swoop in to pounce. Except - Yayo saw through it. Their corporation was new, but their pilots had experience under their belts. But it wasn’t a complete loss: we had gotten a little gang together quite quickly, and Forttrain got to see the improvised side of space combat - the one outside of planned roams.

But what the frack did Greygal think when asking me of all people, whether or not to bring an ewar or damage ship?

…but my thoughts were cut short when John spoke up, who had warped to the station to reship into a better ship.

[ There are sleepers at the station, scanning it. ]

“Sleepers?!” I piped up. “Can we go and watch?”

[ Sure! ] answered Greygal after a few seconds. [ Yayo will stick around, and right now he won’t take our bait. ]

And that was all I needed to hear - I turned my Malediction around and headed to the station.

Indeed, the sleepers were there - of a kind I hadn’t encountered before. They were armed, but they restricted themselves to scanning the station - and ourselves.

“That tickles!”, I giggled on comms, after three of them had scanned me at once.

[ I wonder if we can shoot them ], mused Greygal. [ I have tagged the primary - point and dps, go. ]

And thus we toyed with the sleeper drones, exploring their abilities. We quickly learned that their abilities were not quite up to par to their w-space brethren - but they did have warp core stabilization. We couldn’t quite determine if it needed two or three points to lock them down - those who didn’t warp off, died too quickly for us too conduct experiments.

Ultimately, they all fell to our weaponry. And not without a decent amount of satisfaction on my part -- too often I had had to run from their brethren with my ship on fire, and most of my crew perishing in escape pods nobody would ever rescue, so payback was a pleasure!

But just when we were ready to dock back up and call it a day, John - who had been diligently scanning the system - announced, [ I have located a Limited Sleeper Cache. ]

On comms, we couldn’t see each other, but if we could have, we all would have looked at each other, and nodded.

Squirrel!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Two Birds and a Shotgun

        "Bolt actions speak louder than words." -- Doc Nickel

For a moment, the world spun around me, and I sought purchase at the open hatch to my pod. The last days had been … interesting. And tiring. Unless I was counting wrong, I had flown more sorties in the last four weeks than in the four months before that - and I was one of the lesser active pilots in the alliance at that time even!

These last two days had begun, harmlessly enough, with a Survival Seminar, offered as free service to all the new pilots which had recently joined our alliance. Initially I had paid only superficial attention, since the exercises were in high-sec and about things I already knew. But soon enough the group ventured into null-sec, allowing me to join, and then things got interesting. And for once, our so far impressive pod-extraction record took a ding, as our pods were picked off here and there.

I expected it to end there, but Greygal had other ideas.

[ While we’re pretty much done here, I have received word that APOC is doing a structure shoot somewhat away from here. It would be a good idea to help them, especially since they helped us in our recent diplomatic … issues. Any takers? ]

And of course there were takers! Given our fleet members, we wouldn’t be able to provide large DPS - but stealth bombers are not to be sneezed at. So we began the long trek to Gyerzen, hoping that we would arrive in time to at least do some token damage to that POS.

And damage we did! And since we were there, we went on to help APOC in reinforcing a POCO in the same system as well.

And because we had reinforced it, why not stay around a little bit longer to finish it off?

And thus, bit by bit, a short trip to provide some firepower turned into a two-day engagement.

Luckily Eta had been gracious enough to ferry one of my old structure-shoot battleships to the target system, but even with the more sustained firepower of my sentry Dominix, it made for a long day. In fact, I didn’t remember the last time I had a proper night’s rest.

No wonder I was woozy.

Carefully, I opened my eyes, and found that the world had decided to finally settle down in a definitive place. Letting go of my pod, I walked towards the bunk in my Captain’s Quarters, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to make my way to my actual quarters on this station at that point.

But as I carefully took my steps towards relaxation, an unbidden thought rose in my mind: while all the recent sorties had been important, and exciting, and in certain ways influential, they were also blurring together. I used to be able to recall sorties by singular fights I engaged in - but not anymore.

Maybe it was just me growing up, looking at the bigger picture - but suddenly I couldn’t help feeling that I was losing something important.

And I was missing it.