After spending my first days back in EVE around Molden Heath and Goinard, my alliance began to pick up on my activities and once again started to chide me to join them in Syndicate. While I wasn’t about to move my operations into nullsec out of personal preference, planting a hanger in the nearby Placid region would place me in comfortable roaming distance from my comrades in arms, as well as acting as a staging point to launch roams into Placid itself. I like the lowsec of Placid. It houses an ample number of both PvPers and PvEers, both of which are concentrated within a cluster of roughly a dozen systems: high target density if you hunt at the right time of the day.
However, Placid was not a target region in my logistics planning months earlier, and it would take several days to acquire and move sufficient assets for a new hanger to be readied. Not to be deterred, I decided to finalize my withdrawal from Huola by jumping to my clone there, and moving one of my last remaining ships out of dock: an autocannon fit Punisher. Setting my destination to a system in Placid, I had only an even twenty jumps to travel. Even with a 400mm plate fit, my sturdy frigate slew the distance between regions in little time.
Arriving in Placid with no plans and nothing larger to switch into, I decided to see how much mischief my little bleeder fit could get itself into before going pop. Flying about the region in a hasty ship would also allow me to reacquaint myself with the locals as I could quickly scout who dwelt where and with what forces I could expect to face. I decided to check northern Placid first, and work my way south from there toward the area my alliance is currently active.
Two jumps from Maut, a pair of assault ships started trailing me: an Ishkur and Hawk. My quota of mischief currently unfilled, I decided that I’d experiment to see how much tolerance the AS pilots had for bumping. After landing on the Alparena gate, I waited for the frigate pair to catch up. As each ship landed on the gate, I maneuvered my Punisher to collide with each ship, eventually ping ponging my ship between the two. The opposing pilots retaliated by locking my ship and attempting bump back, which I laughed at as I exited through the gate into Alparena.
The pair followed me into system, and performed the unexpected: they both decloaked with haste, and as I attempted to warp to Maut, the Ishkur locked and placed a point on me, deploying a flight of Hobgoblin IIs my way as he did so. Standard missiles screamed from launch bays nestled in the Hawk, speeding ahead of the drones to strip my Punisher of shields in a single volley.
Shocked, I approached the Ishkur, moving into range to place tackle and mete out Barrage S justice. I couldn’t understand why the AS pilots thought they could engage under sentry fire and survive the encounter, but I wasn’t about to let them flee from their folly. My hefty armor buffer barely registered damage as the Hawk’s missiles and Ishkur’s drones began their assault on my plated hull, all the while my SAR reduced damage accumulation to a slow trickle.
I had overheated and applied my webifier before the Ishkur could rush into blaster range, forcing it to wade into range all the while taking significant damage from sentries and my ACs. The combination proved too much for the Ishkur, and he predictably kersploded less than a minute into the fight. Turning my attention to the Hawk, I was pleased to find he had coasted within 10km of my ship. It was a simple matter of easing into scrambler range to pin the assault ship down for the gate sentries to finish off.
The entire flurry of action left two T2 wrecks adjacent to the gate in less than a minute. Throughout the duration of the fight, I didn’t have time to fire even 50 rounds of munitions into targets before the sentries finished picking them off. I lightheartedly consoled the two rookie pilots as I scooped their loot, and then continued on my journey to Maut to deposit the spoils there.
A short break for drink later I undocked my Punisher, this time setting my sights south toward TXW-EI, the gateway system into Syndicate my alliance had chosen for their base of operations in the area. A rather uneventful nine jumps later, having chased one T1 cruiser/frigate gang to highsec, and another to a complex, I was chatted by an old friend Cephas Boaz from STUGH, who had split off to form the splinter alliance Aggressive Dissonance. While exchanging pleasantries we decided to form a gang to try for the cruisers raiding the complex, my friend logging in his main in a Cyclone to supply DPS. Unfortunately, the three jumps Cephas had to travel were too many, as the cruisers finished their work at the plex and had begun to land on my gate to leave.
Doing the only thing I could imagine to pique their interest to stay, I rushed to bump the nearest ship, bumping between the three cruisers in the enemy gang as they landed on the gate. Incredibly they paused in their flight, each in turn locking me after several seconds of my irritating actions. A Thorax was first to open fire on me, followed soon by a second Thorax, both unleashing their drone and blaster arsenal on my minor frigate. My Punisher slipped between streams of Antimatter rounds, deftly avoiding fire while tanking what little managed to land on its golden hull. I traded tackle with the nearest Thorax, closing in to a tight orbit around the cruiser, using my small Nosferatu to fuel repairs while waiting for my DPS backup to cream the cruisers on the gate.
Additional aid became unnecessary as I realized the novice pilots of these cruisers had fit little in the way of a tank. The first Thorax exploded brilliantly before Cephas could even enter the system, and I had to pull back my pitiful DPS from the second to ensure Cephas got on at least one KM from the engagement. My companion was barely able to lock in time before the second cruiser evaporated from sentry fire. The third cruiser, a Caracal, choose to jump once Cephas had arrived at the gate and placed two volleys of EMP M into his shields.
Cephas warped off to wait down aggression, and I once again moved through the wrecks to scavenge anything of value. Not wanting to wait the full fifteen minutes of GCC, Cephas prompted me to continue scouting adjacent systems, which I readily relented to. While I scouted, Cephas opted to switch to a passive tanked HAM Drake nearby, and began to head in the direction I was probing when I found us another prize: an Ishtar, this time likely belt ratting.
I quickly narrowed down the belt the Ishtar was engaged with, noting the number of wrecks already on scan at the belt: it appeared the Ishtar was done with the rats there, and would likely move on to another belt soon. Predictably, the Ishtar moved one belt down, which I immediately warped to in hopes I could catch him at zero kilometers from the belt. No such luck: the Ishtar had sniper BMs from the belts, and was engaging rats with light drones at distance.
My AC Punisher devotes the vast majority of its power grid and CPU to a massive tank; there is little enough room for weapons, none at all for a speed mod. I didn’t have the luxury of being able to rush out 100km to tackle the HAC. Instead I’d have to approximate a way to warp on top of him using celestials as a midpoint, warping to the celestial then back at the belt at range, hopefully closer to my target. Picking a stargate roughly in line between myself and the Ishtar, I warped off, and after arriving at the stargate, back to the belt at 100km. The Ishtar was now 40km away from me.
With Cephas a few jumps out, I was left with little other choice as I slow boated to the Ishtar, hoping he’d either ignore my smaller frigate or decide to engage me. Kilometers crept by every few seconds as the distance between our two ships deteriorated: a hasty ‘Look At’ later I found that the Ishtar had begun to approach me under normal speed, making my task easier. He was still enamored with destroying pirate frigates with a flight of Hornet IIs; no hostile action was taken until I came within twelve klicks of his ship. It was then we both locked each other, I placing my tackle first while the Ishtar began to recall his drones to deal with my Punisher.
It was slow going trying to move within a close orbit of the drone carrier, as a webifier had reduced my march towards him to a crawl. Small hybrid fire from the HAC lanced into my frigate, soon joined by the flight of Hornet IIs which quickly combined to savage my frigate with devastating effectiveness. To make matters worse, the Ishtar pilot had opted to fit a medium energy neutralizer, evaporating my ability to alleviate my woes via SAR. My fate sealed, I steeled myself to my task of immobilizing the HAC, employing my Nos to keep tackle equipment active. Roughly two thirds of my armor was gone by the time Cephas arrived in system with his Drake.
While the drones made steady progress into my armor, I had incredible difficulty tracking their progress around my ship with autocannon, as I couldn’t spare my webifier in fear the HAC would flee before Cephas had a chance to arrive and exchange tackle. Cephas finally landed at the belt at my location, resolving lock on the enemy HAC with practiced ease to loose deadly volleys of Caldari Navy munitions into the Ishtar, as well a flight of light drones to counter those demolishing my vessel. It was too late to make a difference for my frigate however, as it was moments after the Drake landed that my Punisher hit hull, and succumbed to the Ishtar’s drone flight.
Cephas’ flurry of HAMs turned out more than a match for the passive armor tank of the Ishtar. The drone carrier’s tank failed a short two minutes after contact with the Drake, granting us a worthy prize for our endeavors. Cephas scooped loot, and we headed back to his base of operations in Placid.
Before setting out to scout for Cephas, I had joined him on his vent server to smooth out communications. By the time of our Ishtar kill, voice comms had become much more active, with many old comrades from my earlier days in STUGH logging in for their piece of action for the night. Upon reaching his hanger Cephas sold me a Brutix, and we formed a gang to continue our roam through Placid. We set out BC heavy, with my dual MAR Brutix spearheading the gang, scouting one system ahead in hopes another gang would engage my tanky vessel first. It wasn’t long before I arrived in Pelilie, jumping into a small BS gang of none other than my allies in STUGH!
The situation was made all the more awkward as not only were my friends in Aggressive on shooting terms with STUGH proper, I was FCing for their gang. To say the least, the next half hour was an incredibly interesting flurry of explosions, which I’ll report on next post.
Fly reckless folks.