Sunday, 20 September 2009

Greener grass - Part I

Having spent the last few months running with the Tuskers, I have recently found myself longing for more action than a life of piracy can provide. Not that it is devoid of action, far from it, but as strange as this seems, I long for war. This may sound idealistic, but I want to have objectives to complete. When I undock I want to have a purpose other than meaningless destruction. So with a heavy heart I handed in my resignation and began the search for my new corporation. Unknown to me at the time I exited the Tuskers, my good friend Caster Rom was also on the search for a new corporation. He seemingly had the same urges as me and has joined a corporation called District 9, a member of the alliance Ushra'khan. They operate in the southern reaches of the galaxy around Curse. Meanwhile my search continued.

I advertised myself on several different channels and to my surprise and delight I attracted quite a lot of attention. Within a couple of days my inbox was full of mails inviting me to join dozens of different corporations. Some I disregarded immediately as they were not what I was looking for or the mails were just one liners asking me to join. If I was going to join a corporation, I wanted to be in one that wanted me enough to spend some time on the mails. Having sifted through the pile and gathered a few that I liked the sound of I joined public channels and had conversations with CEO's and recruitment officers. Again the ones that didn't suit me or were not particularly forthcoming about their operations I rejected, in favour of the ones that answered all my questions and were nice people. Eventually after narrowing my search down, I was left with one corporation: Gravis Unbound, a member of The Council. To my delight there base wasn't even that far from Hevrice; less than thirty jumps. It was also only eight jumps from Jita so supplying myself with everything I needed would be a cinch. So the arduous process of moving began. Luckily I could fit most of my essentials in my borrowed industrial in one run. There were only a few ships that I couldn't fit in but I flew those manually at a later date.

At this point I was still based in low-sec and getting to know the surrounding locations. I had to soak up a massive amount of information in a very short space of time. Once I was settled in with the corp in low-sec, it was time to move to null-sec. I tentatively moved a couple of ships out to an alliance station, using jump bridges to shorten my journey; another new experience. Remembering my last few forays in 0.0, I was being incredibly cautious. There was nothing to fear however as most systems were either empty or full of the comforting blue stars of fellow alliance members. I set up a jump clone in the alliance station so I could easily zip back and forward between the two places, without having to travel. While I was still sorting out all of my logistics, I was really getting to know the people in my new corporation and starting to learn about how the alliance worked. The size of it and the organisation required was staggering. I was determined to get as involved in it as much as I possibly could, hopefully that would mean I would get into more scraps.

The first major op that I went on with Gravis was so unlike anything I ever went on with The Tuskers, it was almost unreal. We were heading out POS bashing. A task I count as one of the milestones in this universe, along with others such as your first kill etc. Me in my stealth bomber, one guy in a battleship, and most impressively, three dreadnoughts. I arrived at the first tower we had targeted, all stealthy like. I got a good warp in for the slow dreads and as the tower was undefended, I decloaked and started firing. I might as well have been throwing rocks at it. The thing had millions of shield hitpoints, so I hardly made a dent. When the dreads arrived though it was a different story. They are huge, beautiful, and awesome in their power. They knocked chunks off the towers armour, although it was still a good fifteen minutes of constant shooting to get it into reinforced mode. We noted the length of time its Strontium would last for and come back when it was once again vulnerable. For the uninitiated I should explain. When a POS's shields are taken down to 25% they start to consume a resource called Strontium Clathrates. These make the shield temporarily invulnerable, but any other modules linked to the tower loose power. This gives the owners of the tower time to organise a proper defence.

While we were waiting for it to drop out of reinforced mode we decided to go for another tower. This one though was much more heavily defended. It had turrets, EWAR, a warp jammers. Once again I got a good warp in for the cumbersome dreadnoughts, but I remained cloaked. The guns would have atomised me in about the amount of time it takes the average person to blink, if I had uncloaked. The dreads arrived and I moved to a safe distance so they wouldn't uncloak me and they started pounding away at the various armaments attached to the tower. Priority was given to the warp jammer. After that was disabled, a couple of the guns were taken out, and then they started beating the shield. All was going well when a Lachesis appeared on grid. It quickly lit a cyno and three enemy dreadnoughts jumped in, along with a handful of sub-caps. Over the course of ten minutes or so the dreads pounded on each other. It was obvious the enemy was going to win because they had support, so the Gravis dreads decided to self destruct to deny them the victory. I valiantly sacrificed myself to destroy one of the wrecks and keep the valuable loot out of the enemies hands.

After all that excitement things calmed down for a few days, and I decided it was high time that I moved in null-sec proper, and started to utilise some of the ships I already had out there. I did a couple of runs back and forward to get a few ships down there. Once completed, I had a decent amount of supplies, a Vexor, a Thorax, and an Enyo down there. So having set up my base of operations, I began to explore the surrounding area, as always the first thing you must do when you move somewhere new. For the first few days I did very little other than rat to build up my isk reserves and set up safe spots. It was all going rather well until on my way back I was ambushed by a group of three pilots. An Omen, a Rupture, and a Ferox. My cheap and cheerful Vexor never stood a chance and was blown to bits. I brought word of this incursion into our territory back to the alliance and a small group of pilots, four including me, jumped in combat ships and headed out. I was trying the Thorax for the first time, and had opted for a fit geared entirely towards damage output. The other three guys were also in tech I cruisers. We caught up with them a few systems away and jumped them at a gate. A couple of people went for the Omen and me and the last pilot went for the Rupture. I have to say I was impressed by the damage my thorax was dishing out; it was blowing chunks out of the Ruptures armour. The engagement seemed to be going well when the enemy combat group got a reinforcement in the shape of a Sleipnir command ship. It immediately pounced on me and I melted like an ice cube in a desert. Being geared towards damage, I had a tank about as effective as a wet paper bag, so I went down in a matter of seconds. Another pilot lost his cruiser and we had to withdraw.

I experienced my second ambush only a few days later. Coming back in our home system, a Flycatcher and two Manticores attacked me. The Flycatcher held me and the stealth bombers brought me low. They were fit with micro warp drives so I couldn't get close enough to attack them. I had foolishly moved away from the gate so I couldn't jump through to safety. I desperately called for help, as my tank started to waver. At the last minute a friendly Megathron showed up and set his rep drones on me in the nick of time. The fearsome presence of the battleship scared my attackers away. If I listed every minor engagement I've had since moving to null sec I would be here a very long time, so I'll move on to something of greater significance: my first large fleet battle.

A mail had been sent out to every member of the alliance informing them that a fleet was being formed. I wanted in on this so I jumped in my ship and joined the fleet. There were about forty of us in total. I have to say, seeing so many ships in one place is rather awe inspiring. As if forty weren't enough I was told that we would be meeting up with a fleet from another alliance. We were waging war.

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