“And that’s how you make a proper ham sandwich”, concluded someone over comms. Something like this anyway. The conversation had meandered considerably since we began camping the stargate in our home solar system; there was little traffic coming through and nothing much to shoot at, we were getting bored. Boooooored.
With only about five of us knocking about this evening in small ships we didn’t fancy prowling into deeper space at the risk of being battered by a much larger fleet, so we occupied ourselves with this sedate activity. I’d just learned all the skills to fly interceptors and piloted a shiny new Ares on which I’d lavished about half my savings, buying rig upgrades and pricey tech II modules. Interceptors look like the game’s smallest frigates but with a much greater capacity for speed and firepower and I was enjoying simply orbiting the gate in mine, making ‘neeeowm’ noises as I buzzed about, five times faster than I’d ever been able to travel before. I didn’t want to see it pop just yet so was content enough to hang around on a nice, safe gate camp.
“Scorpion coming in”, our scout reported from the other side of the gate. A lone covert-ops battleship, packed to the gills with electronic countermeasures. Nothing we shouldn’t be able to take before anything nasty happens, we thought. There was nothing untoward on scan anyway – and we were booooored, remember?
When ships warp through a gate they remain stationary and in cloak until they decide to move or after 30 seconds elapses. Unless a ship is equipped with a cloaking device, that is, in which case it can remain cloaked indefinitely or until another ship flies within two kilometres, disrupting and disabling its cloak. But this is fairly unlikely.
In an attempt to get a decent range on the likely position of the incoming Scorpion, Lucious Desire, RPSH vet, flew straight into it, de-cloaking the thing and suffering the full power-zapping wrath of its defences in return, draining his ship’s capacitors and rendering it pretty much helpless. The rest of us barrelled in and were doing a decent enough job of hacking through its shields and armour when:
I’ve heard of cynos or cynosural fields before. People ask for them at stations, they are used as beacons for big ships to jump to, ships that are too big to use stargates. This was the first time I’d seen one in a fight.
Almost immediately the number of pilots in our local system rose dramatically. Thankfully, I’m not a writer to blanch at hideous cliche, cus: IT’S A TRAP!
Members of my fleet started reeling off enemy ship types over the comms channel, of which many I’d never heard: “Widow, Panther, Scorp, Rapier, Azaru, Pilgrim”. Lucious blew up. There was little I could actually do to help so decided on the gentlemanly thing and ran the hell away back to our home station. Neeeowm.
The remainder of the fleet had the same thought but jumped into their meatier ships when docked and flung themselves back into the fight, determined to bring down that initial sneaky Scorpion. Which they did, hurrah. Just before the cyno jumped in two Thanatos. Erk.
Thantos are fighter carrier types. Carriers are like angry, moon-sized beehives containing squadrons of fighters – which are like angry, cruiser-sized robot space bees. A tactical retreat was the only sensible option.
It was crazy that our tiny gate gang had instigated such a massive show of force, and the conflict was escalating still further. One of our guys was busy contacting local allies and our comms channel was steadily filling with more and more pilots as a rapid counter attack using our own carriers began to assemble. With more people arriving, I chanced leaving my hanger and pootled my Ares to the point in space where the enemy fleet was only now disengaging and warping away. I just caught sight of a massive, hulking carrier crawling itself into warp.
We regrouped, a much larger fleet now, and waited for a cov-ops ship to probe out the enemy fleet who were hidden somewhere in the system. We’d turn the tables, re-engage then drop our own cyno to summon in our allies’ carriers, hopefully taking down one of theirs – a loss to the tune of over one billion ISK.
But we were too late. The enemy fleet escaped, using another cyno in their home system to jump out. An interesting 10 minutes, nonetheless where one of the slowest evenings had suddenly turned into the biggest operation I’d ever been part of. And, after months piloting ships that seemed to get destroyed by the slightest enemy interest, I was flying something that was fast enough to dodge hostile fire and beat extremely hasty retreats, as I did tonight.
And it was really something to see so many players from several different corps dropping everything and banding together as allies of RPSH to respond to a hostile incursion. Dramatic stuff. I hope it happens again soon.