There were a few small ops going on in Venal last night, Pacific time. Clean up ops and such, though they were not announced as such.
A call for a Drake fleet came up and since I was done with dinner and had a couple of hours before the instance group was due to get together in Rift, I logged in and joined up.
As usual, out start point was in CS-ZGD up in Branch, which on the flattened star map seems like it is a long way from Venal, something reinforced by the fact that it was our jump off point for the Tenal invasion.
But that map does not really tell the tale, and there are plenty of direct connections between CS-ZGD and Venal, especially with the jump bridge system. My view of the world is slightly skewed by having started off in the south end of Deklein in that little purple spot of TNT territory and having fought through Branch and Tenal by going the long way around through CFC territory. We started next to Venal and a long way from Branch going that route. The DOTLAN map of Branch shows the connections better.
So the trip to Venal was short… or not too long in any case. Any fleet form up is like herding cats at times. There is that first 15-30 minutes of people joining late, wanted to know where the fleet is, wanting to know if they can catch up. And then there are the rest of us who just want to go go go and get to the destination and what exactly is the destination please and what are we going to do when we get there can we jump already or is the gate red and if it is do I have long enough to run to the store and buy some more beer?
Meanwhile the FC is moving us along slowly, both to keep us together and let stragglers catch up and because he is on the intel coms trying to find out what is ahead of us and what the real plan is and if it has changed from what he started out doing.
Which is why it takes 45 minutes to get some place that is really only 10 jumps away with jump bridges. But eventually we did get out to our first destination, MC6-5J and blew some stuff up. POS modules.
They were not even live POS modules, but left overs from the POS the fleets blew up earlier in the day. The CFC already had a tower placed, named after a Goon whose choice in naming his character lead that name to be applied to any number of structures since.
We had to kill the old, off-line modules because they were in the way of our plan for a hyperspace bypass or some such. So I was able to inflate my kill board totals for April, which is becoming a structure shoot month for me, but did not lead to a lot of excitement.
In a regular POS shoot, all the missiles focus in like a cone, with the small end being the target. This time, with just crap to clear, a lot of people wanted to make sure they got counted for each module, so ungrouped their weapons and targeted them all at different modules, leading to some crazy looking patterns of fire.
I took some video of the shoot, if only to illustrate an example of extreme kill mail whoring. I will get around to editing it at some point.
The whole thing was so exciting that the FC, who was also the anchor ship for the fleet, twice flew us out of range of the modules, which managed to stretch the duration of the shoot out even further.
Once all the modules were down, we were slated to clear modules from another system. However, people were complaining about being low on ammo. So we headed to one of the stations in the region, PF-QHK. That is one of those systems that it is better to show up in with a sizable force at your back.
We hit the station, but the first shoot had dragged on so long that it was time for me to start getting ready for the instance group. So I left the fleet and logged off in the station. I figured after the instance group it would probably be late enough for me to sneak back to CFC space.
After our time in Telara, I logged back in to EVE, saw a couple of blues and a couple of reds in the system, no big deal as long as I moved fast before anybody could call down any reinforcements.
Unbeknownst to me, a Black Legion alliance gang had just knocked off a couple of CFC ships, a Maelstrom and a Drake, in EIV-W1, which was right on the path I was taking back to Branch, and were headed back my way.
Just as I hit the gate to VG-6CH, the population in local suddenly starts going up and a whole fleet of ships breaks cloak around me, no doubt interested in a new victim.
I had warped to jump, and went through the gate pretty quickly. On the other side, I wasted no time aligning and warping to jump to the next gate on my list. As warp was initiating at an agonizingly slow pace, the whole fleet started breaking cloak around me. They must have turned and burned for the gate and jumped through after me.
I could see the yellow boxes blinking and they started to target me, and a big fat juicy Drake has a signature radius that makes it pretty quick to lock onto.
The warp drive won the race, and I hit the next gate and jumped through. It was, however, pretty clear where I was headed. I started the warp to the next jump gate as soon as I could. And, sure enough, the whole gang jumped through to me and broke cloak all around again. This time only one of their ships started targeting me before I was in warp.
In the system after that they again appeared, but only as I was already warping away. I was clearly gaining ever so slightly on them. I was not stopping for anything while they were trying to lock me up and then looking to see where I had gone before warping.
In the next system, EIV-1W, they were just breaking cloak when I was warping away. By the time I hit the gate to S-1ZXZ, I saw them start to disappear from local. They had given up the chase.
In S-1ZXZ I warped to the next gate and took a moment to report the gang and approximate details on our intel channel then continued the trip back to CS-ZGD.
A lucky escape for me. If I had farted around in the station for a bit watching the intel channels and such, I might have jumped straight into them or ended up stuck in the station.
I did find it interesting that one of the pilots in that fleet was AnchorSteamAle, as the Anchor Brewing Company is from my area of the world and their beer happens to be in our fridge right now, being one of my favorites. So maybe he is from the Bay Area as well. (Though there is no such thing as Anchor Steam Ale. But people do sometimes think that “Anchor Steam” is the name of the company.)
Anyway, they went on their way and knocked off a couple of other targets in K3JR-J while I made it home to CS-ZGD without further incident.
Now to see what the fleet ops are for today. They kicked off in European time while I was still fast asleep and so far nothing has come through on Jabber except for a VFK defense fleet. What will the day bring?