The Edge of Empire

“Warping to a belt. Two Harbingers on scan. Wait for my signal”

The voice of the fleet commander echoed in my pod. After a few days of inactivity the anticipation of combat caused the hairs on the back of my neck to rise. At least that’s what it felt like. Cocooned in the pod it probably wasn’t possible, but the brain is a odd thing and provided the feeling that went with the situation.

“They have engaged. Jump and warp to me now”

We pinged the request to the gate and were sucked through into Jan. Orienting quickly I told the ship to locate and warp to the commanders ship. Within seconds the warp engine engaged and we thundered through space.

As the engine shutdown and we returned to normal space I could see the damage being done by the two hostiles. The commander’s shields were holding, but only just. The odd flash confirmed that some damage was bleeding through.

“Engage the nearest ship. All guns fire!”

It was the lull between storms, the eye of the hurricane if you will, after leaving one alliance and waiting to join a new one. The corporation had largely evacuated from Guristas space to low sec and we were sitting in stations spinning. Ok, well not spinning because you can’t do that anymore, more like sitting on the couch watching the news scroll by.

This had gone on for a couple of days. I’d busied myself moving cyno alts, reviewing training plans, and buying skill books.

I’d taken a trip the length of the country and back and just logged on to check the skill queue (that was my intention honest). Anyway, one of the rules is if you are logged on you should be on comms. I connected to Mumble and saw everyone was in one of the ops channels. I joined just to listen.  They were in a fleet, in the same system I was, and had just killed a Drake. Hmmm, what to do….

I checked the time. Almost 23:40. I guess it wouldn’t do any harm just to fly out and see them for a little while. I switched ships to an arty cane and warped to meet the fleet. They were just waiting out GCC whilst the FC poked about in the next system.

There were a couple of pirates in system and he had a couple of Harbingers and a Drake on scan. We got in position near the gate as he tracked them down. He had a warp in and ordered us to the gate.

“I’ve landed on grid. They are over 100km off….”

“They are burning towards me. Hold on the gate.”

“I have aggression. Jump and warp”

I jumped in, selected warp to member at 30km, and was almost instantly ploughing through space.

“Get points.”. I didn’t have a point on the arty cane, not a lot of point if you are set up for 40+km range, so just landed on grid and started locking the targets. Or not. It didn’t seem to be working. Then I realised I was hitting the wrong key on the keyboard, maybe I was more tired than I thought. I corrected my fingers and locked up both ships.  The rest of the guys had both pointed. I threw shells in the primary, which promptly exploded. Switching to the secondary, it didn’t last much longer either. Two down in under a minute.

“Post kill mails”

I checked and found I had both. Pretty good, I’d been in the fleet less than 10 minutes and had two kills. Great!

We warped to a safe and waited out the aggression timer. In the meantime the FC scouted out another system two jumps away. More flashy reds. Most of them sitting on station though, but including a Maelstrom and a Tengu.

We continued to wait. The timer ticking down on the left corner of the screen. 5 minutes, 4, 3, 2, 1, less than a minute. Finally gone we warped, jumped, and warped again to get in position should we be needed.

“Maelstrom is warping to your gate. I’m following.”

We waited ready to jump.

“He’s aggressed, jump in.”. I clicked jump. “Proteus on field. Primary the Maelstrom, neut it out”.

We de-cloaked and started shooting the Maelstrom. I got into an orbit so as to be able to use my neut (spot the rookie error) and watched the Maelstroms shields start to fall. A Zealot appeared on field. Then a Blackbird. I was close enough to use the neut now and, with the combined effort from the fleet, the Maelstrom was soon in armour and going down.

Suddenly the overview was full of ships as a hostile gang jumped in. The Maelstrom had been bait!

“Warp out, or burn off and warp. It’s an AHAC gang we should be able to get away.”

I tried to warp.

“External forces are preventing your warp drive from operating.”

I tried to burn out with the MWD.

“External forces are preventing your microwarp drive from operating.”

Checking my overview I could see 4 ships with points on me, at least one of which was a scrambler. I pulled in my drones and headed for the gate. I was 14km away and my shields were at 90%. The battlecruiser turned and headed for safety.

12km 80% shields

I accelerated towards the gate. If I could get there my aggression timer would have run out and I’d be able to jump.

10km 60% shields

It was going to be touch and go.

8km 40% shields. They were dropping faster now, it wasn’t looking hopeful. My speed slowed and I saw the telltale webifier effect playing on my ship.

7km 10% shields.

The shields collapsed and armour melted.

I picked a celestial and started spamming warp.

My ship exploded and almost instantly my pod shot off to safety.

We lost three ships and destroyed a Maelstrom. Probably about a fair ISK loss, but it confirmed that it was too late for me and I should head off to bed.

Spot the rookie mistake? I was in an arty cane. Instead of getting close enough to use the neut I should have been burning off to range from the start. I could have sat at 50km and done almost as much damage and I wouldn’t have lost my ship. Oh well, I’ll remember it for next time.



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