Silent Roam

The gate flashed indicating a ship coming through. IFF indicated that a new pilot had entered the system. I quizzed Aurora.

“Pilot confirmed as a member of R.A.G.E. Current status is hostile.”

I engage the drive and start orbiting the gate, scanning space for the intruder. Finally I he appears.

“Crane. Caldari blockade runner”, Aurora intoned.

I launched my ship across space towards the Crane and engaged the targetting computer. I could see it start to align in the viewscreen. I was going to have to be quick, before they could engage their cloaking device.

We’ve been down in our new space for a few weeks now, and are getting familar with our local opponents. It seems that we need to field slightly larger, and more heavily armed, fleets than we typically roamed in around Insmother. That’s fine, but to a lot of people have had to re-equip following our move and that’s caused issues with getting the right fleet composition. On this particular evening though we’d found a wormhole to Vale of the Silent which presented an opportunity for people to jump in a frigate gang for a quick roam.

We already had a dictor in gang so I jumped into an Ares and joined the fleet assembling on our side of the wormhole. We jumped through into B-E3KQ and headed to the 5t-KM3 gate to hunt for unsuspecting carebears. Our scout jumped in and said that the system was empty. We jumped in and warped to the 6Y-WRK gate. As we landed the gate flashed and a new neutral appeared in local. We quickly got into position around the gate and waited for the intruder to decloak.

A Crane appeared. Immediately a bubble went up and I started to try and lock it. It wouldn’t take long, but an experienced pilot should be able to cloak and start to burn away quicker.

I got the lock.

“Point”, I announced after triggering the warp disruptor and burned towards the single with rails firing.

“Why didn’t it cloak”. I thought, as its armor boiled away under the onslaught from our fleet. Within seconds the Crane exploded. The pod sat in the Sabre’s bubbled and was quickly dispatched. As we were congratulating ourselves the gate fired again. The Heron de-cloaked almost immediately and attempted to burn out of the bubble… unsuccessfully. Another pod dispatched and this was turning into a good roam already.

There was still the question mark about the Crane. Looking at the killmail was interesting. Cargo Expanders in the lows and Cargohold Optimization rigs. I always thought that you fit blockade runners for speed and agility to allow them to try and evade gatecamps such as ours. This seemed to point to an in-experienced pilot.

We moved onto the next system and warped to the ZLZ gate. Our scout, one jump ahead now, reported a Drake jumping through. Again we arranged ourselves around the gate. The Drake de-cloaked and up went the bubble. I locked quickly again and started to pound away with the railguns. Well, not exactly pound, but you know what I mean. The Kitsune had the Drake jammed so there was no fear of retalition. A little later and we’d got another kill. This time the fight went on long enough for the bubble to drop so the pod got away.

We jumped into ZLZ. Nothing going on there so we warped to the out gate. As we arrived it flashed again, another ship jumping in. We were having some luck today. We sat waiting for the cloak to drop. Time ticked by and nothing. It must be something slow, quick ships usually drop cloak and either try to burn away or back to the gate. Eventually the cloak dropped revealing another Drake. Bubble up, pointed, jammed, killed. At one point the Kitsune pilot reported that he’d lost the jam, but still nothing from the Drake. Why was that. A quick check of the fit revealed all. I guess this was a lesson learned for the pilot. Don’t fly unfitted ships through nullsec.

Again the gate flashed. Another Crane! This one was a better pilot though he managed to cloak. He couldn’t escape the bubble before being de-cloaked though and he went the way of the first. At least this was a decent looking fit.

We jumped on again, this time into RVCZ. There were a few hostiles in here but nothing on scan. We headed for VI2K-J and found another ship sitting on the gate. A bubble went up, but with so many neutrals around our FC didn’t want to engage. Some of our pilots did so anyway. As they did this we started to see new ships on scan.

“Burn out of the bubble and warp off!”

Local spiked.

Checking the ships nearby and the fact that I was in the middle of the bubble I chose to jump instead of burning out. I figured that it gave me the best chance of survival.

The grid loaded in the new system to reveal a dozen ships on gate. An Ares, a Stiletto, a couple of BCs, a couple of HACs, and an Onyx with its bubble up. Oops. This didn’t look like such a smart move now.

I sat cloaked debating what to do. I could try and burn out of the bubble, but risk getting caught by the two interceptors, or I could burn for the gate and risk getting caught in the bubble on the other side. Ten seconds passsed… Twenty. I’d have to decide soon… I bubble dropped and they started to jump through. I heard on comms that one of our Assault Frigates had been caught. No, doubt they all wanted on the killmail. As soon as the last of them had left I warped off to a nearby celestial and set about making a safe.

Comms were buzzing from ZLZ. It became clear that we’d only lost one ship and that everyone else was running through rolling safes. I reported to the FC that I was in the next system and that the gate was clear. They kept moving around until they got eyes on the out gate then joined me.

We fled through FMBR, FH-TTC, and MQ-O27 with the hostile fleet in close pursuit. We were in the faster ships though and soon began to outpace them. By the time they reached 1VK there was no sign of them. We’d escaped.

Without the pursuit we settled back into roaming mode and decided to loop around to check out the station systems of MGAM and Q3-BAY before heading home.

The systems around here showed a degree of ratting activity so we went into grasshopper mode. The dictor jumps in and bubbles the station then the rest jump in and head for the belts. The plans is to either catch something in the belts or in the bubble on the station.

In MGAM we caught a Drake in the top belt. He was pointed and the fleet descended on him again reducing him a wreck of twisted metal and dispatching his pod.

Everyone was well aware of our presence now and we didn’t manage to catch any more ships, even though there were ships in the systems. They were all either docked or sitting behind POS shields. Not to worry though it had been a successful start to the new month; 6 kills and a single loss.

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