Thursday, 22 May 2008

Rolling in Delve

Jayne: "Do you know what the chain of command is here? It's the chain I go get and beat you with to show you who's in command."

In the vastness of space it's easy to forget your roots, there's always new adventures and with them the adrenaline fueled, heart stopping encounters that become legend, if only in your own mind.

Delve, a fortress, controlled by the mighty Band of Brothers, our mortal enemy. The war against the Ascendant Frontier taking its toll on the residents of Feythabolis, the combat pilots struggling against the rip tide of the BoB war machine.

Fleet operations to the average pilot is some of the most tedious fights imaginable. Hours of planning, setting up, waiting, waiting for a few minutes of heart attack inducing action. For some this is the Pinnacle of combat in the EVE universe, being able to follow commands, align in the right direction and press the buttons when told to at the target that was called by someone else.
For the pilots of Ars Caelestis this was a frustrating way to get anything done, the ASCN FCs more liable to get us killed than to get us to kill anything, we were more used to small gang combat and guerilla warfare.

We were out of our depth in Feyth, no capitals and very few tech 2 snipers. We were however very good at fast moving hit and run gangs, something we did frequently whilst in Huzzah, raiding Firmius Ixion space. We were most comfortable flying together and always looking for fun and excitement. With this in mind we were tasked with running raids into Delve.

Now all this was at a time before the updated navigation systems were introduced so no "Warp to Zero". Instead we had a system known as "Instas". These were pilot created bookmarks in space that would enable you to warp close to a gate. I had thousands of "Instas" programmed into my navigation computer however no pilot in Ars Caelestis had any for Delve so it was back to the old school for our operations: small, agile and fast ships would be used, MWDs the first module fitted.

We were based just outside of Blood Raider controlled Delve, we would strike from lowsec and retreat once the op was over. Our first op was a suicide hit & run mission to get a feel for the area and gauge the response time of the locals. There were eight of us in assorted frigates and cruisers and as was so often the case I was volunteered to scout, something I enjoyed quite a lot and probably what sowed the seeds of my solo career. I was in a vanilla tech 1 Rifter (MWD, web, point, nano, overdrive, small armour repper, 150mm autocannons and a rocket launcher), It was after all a suicide mission so no point in spashing the isk with named or tech 2 fittings. With no Instas I would warp to a gate at 15km and burn the rest of the way with my MWD so speed was essential and is why the Rifter was fit that way.

Delve was empty, our first few jumps a barren wasteland. I had started to move two jumps ahead as the FC asked and it wasn't long before I saw the first sign of life, there was another pilot in System but my onboard scanner revealed nothing. I was hammering the scan button like a monkey on Crash bashing a drum, the rest of the gang making all speed to catch up. I was waiting just off the gate when my scanner revealed the hostile ship, a Cheetah, uncloaked and heading my way.

My overview lit up as the Minmatar covert ops frigate burst out of warp 15 clicks away from me. My heart rate accelerated, my voice over comms "Hostile Covops on gate, engaging" I initiated target lock and closed the distance, lock resolved and tackling gear jumps into action. Webbed and scrammed, the Cheetah was going nowhere... NOWHERE! Strangely enough, the Cheetah locked me and agressed, the rest of the gang had jumped in and initiated warp to my position. My orbit around the stricken covops a mere 500m, my guns and rocket launcher raining sweet death, the Cheetah exploding in a beautiful flash just as the first of my support burst out of warp, my targeting systems resolving the lock on the escape pod, scrambled. The delightful squish it made as it popped still a sound I love to this day. A glance at the killmail showing that the precious Covert Ops Cloak had been destroyed, at the time they cost approx. 80million ISK but that didn't matter in the slightest to me, I was grinning like a madman as I had just gotten my first solo kill and I was stoked.

We proceeded on our way, going as far as NOL when we decided to call it a day, it was getting late and targets we could engage were very rare. We had however stirred the hornets nest and a response gang started to give chase. I had become seperated from the rest of the gang and was trapped in a system, hostiles waiting for me on the gate out. I was creating and bouncing safespots until the hostile gang decided to chase the rest of my gang who had taken the quickest and most direct route out of Delve. I was however stuck with hostiles in front and behind me but there was another way out of Delve which was three times as long but it was one I took, the scenic route.

I docked up in our forward operations HQ, exhausted and in desperate need of a cigarette. Our suicide operation was a complete failure as we didn't lose a single ship, we only had the one kill to show for our trouble too but it was one of the greatest nights of my life.

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