In which pretty much nothing happens, so you might as well just look at the pictures and move on.
I was not sure I was going to get to go on this op.
There was an update to fleet doctrine recently, during the war in Delve, with new fits, new ships, and even new fleets becoming part of official policy.
I can still fly Drake fleet of course, since my skills in missiles and shields are just about all max’d out. And I am still good with Alpha fleet, even if I have to fly the Maelstrom with training wheels because of my low gunnery skills. (Both on my character and in person. I never seem to have the right ammo for starters.)
But Welp fleet changed fits to something I am going to need to train for, while the Bomber fleet just scares me because, while I have all the skills, I have no clue on how to actually fly the ship and really don’t want to figure it out in my usual manner, which generally involves screwing up badly.
And then there is the Tengu fleet.
Tengu fleet is the new darling of fleet ops, as unlike Drake fleet, it doesn’t need a nearly full fleet to be effective. So it has become the go-to fleet for odd hour weekday operations. It is odd, fleet ops in Delve at late hours were filled to overflowing but back in Deklein we seem to be scraping by with much smaller turn outs. No war fever I guess.
Of course, the promise of a fight related to defending or attacking a tower might have worn thin over the many tellings.
So it was last night when the alert came up promising a fight over the control of a tech moon in Venal. This is where Black Legion and our erstwhile foes in Delve, Nulli Secunda, have been hitting OTEC installations in the wilds of Venal in hopes of provoking a serious fight now and again. Bless them for giving us something to do.
The call was for a Tengu fleet, which got a very low interest reaction from me. I can fly the official reimbursement Tengu fit. However, our alliance policy also requires some minimum subsystem skills in order to qualify for reimbursement. This is something my pal Gaff found out the hard way. I am level 4 across the board, but some level 5 skills are required if you want to get paid for the loss of your 600+ million ISK ship. So no Tengu ops for me until I spend a couple weeks training.
An update came along a bit later asking for more people to get in the fleet, even if it was only in a Drake.
There was the magic word. I can afford to lose a Drake even if I don’t get reimbursed because I brought it to a Tengu fleet. And strong still is the call to “go shoot stuff” for me.
I got into the game, clone jumped to VFK, saddled up a Drake a warped out to the rally point. And there we sat as DBRB called for more Scimitars to support the fleet. Logistics, space priests, ever the linchpin of our fleet operations.
So I volunteered to reship to a Scimitar, as I happened to have one parked in VFK in the right configuration. Apparently one more logi was all he wanted, because the fleet started off before I was able to undock.
You may be tempted to mention at this point that, in flying a Scimitar, I can join any of the standard fleets (aside from bombers) that the CFC puts up because we never have too many logistics ships. And you would be correct. My reluctance stems from two things.
First, I am pretty sure I am bad at logistics at this point. I do not have a lot of direct evidence from the four times I have flown them on fleet ops, once I was blown up very early in the fight and the other three times (which includes this very op) things ended up going so well for us that I suspect everybody else was simply able to carry my dead weight without notice. But the fact that I ran off without nanite paste or performance enhancing drugs again (I actually have some nanite paste, but never remember to buy the drugs) seems to argue in favor of my failings as a logi pilot.
Second, I like to shoot stuff. Getting kills still thrills, even if I am just one ship in the Drake blob. And, frankly, the only way my corp or alliance seems to know I am doing anything at all is when I get on the kill boards or when I submit reimbursement forms.
But, in the name of getting a fleet op going, I will bite the bullet and fly a Scimitar. I suppose there is no other way to learn.
Of course, as I mentioned, the fleet took off so I was rushed, which is part of the reason for no paste/no drugs. The fleet had used a jump bridge and was a couple of gates into Venal when I finally caught up. Getting to the target system was a good dozen jumps from the jump bridge, but soon we were sitting on the gate to 42XJ-N, at which point the logi leader told us to take our drugs. Yeah, oops.
Then it was through the gate and into the waiting arms of a Black Legion Abaddon fleet, which started off the battle on a bad note for us, when one of our Tengus got popped before everybody was together and focused. I was still locking up key individuals when the “need shields” call came, and by the time he was locked there was only a pod to rep.
My first though was the hope that we were not sailing into a fiasco. But the kill turned out to be a quirk of fate. Black Legion was able to primary him before we were together. We did better after that. Even drug free me got reps off on ships taking damage, including our heavy interdictor who was something of a key to the operation.
It was he who was to put up the bubble to trap the enemy and to light the cyno to bring in the dreadnoughts.
DBRB said later on coms that Black Legion had asked Nulli Secunda to not form up, except as a bomber fleet, as the expectation was that we wouldn’t be able to field enough ships to want to fight if they both showed up in force. Then we dropped capitals on them. And once that happened, things pretty much went our way, with 13 battleships and 2 carriers getting popped as they pulled up stakes and headed for the exit.
At one point I deployed a combat drone and assigned it to one of the Tengus in hopes of whoring myself onto at least one killmail, but the drone sat idle the whole time, then got left behind as we hopped around a bit to try and chase down the opposing fleet.
That done, we jumped to the tower we were there to destroy. Here I managed to fly too close to the tower defense, which locked me up and started shooting at me. However, between my speed, size, and reps from fellow logis, I barely sustained any damage to my shields at all beyond the tiniest sliver of red showing. But it looked exciting.
And then it was everybody’s favorite activity, a POS shoot. Fortunately, the dreads stuck around and helped make it a short shoot.
Once the tower was down, it was time to put up one of our own in its place. The dreads trundled off and we got to sit around guarding the tower during its vulnerable deployment and onlining stages. Each of those takes 30 minutes. So there was an hour of flying in circles.
The boredom of the wait was mercifully broken by Nulli Secunda, which had some stealth bombers in system. They took runs at us now and again, the most comic of which took place just as DBRB went AFK for a bathroom break. The bombers swooped in, launched their bombs, took a loss, but got a Tengu kill.
When DBRB got back he was incredulous. How could a Tengu die to such a weak attack?
It turned out that the victim brought his ratting Tengu to the fleet op. A look at the kill mail shows it fit for active tank Guristas operations, with a low (25K) effective hit points. Compare that to one that is fit for Tengu fleet operations, with an EHP of 125K. Ratting ships do not do well in PvP, as I could tell you.
A later bomb attack hit the logistics ships dead on, which knocked shields down about 25%. Not a big threat to the right fit.
As the timer counted down, people started to get really bored, or cranky, or both, which DBRB tried to solve with a combination of trolling and talking about Kristen Stewart getting caught cheating on Robert Pattinson with her recent director Rupert Sanders, who also happens to be married. It was like TMZ in space.
Then DBRB said how old he was on coms, and the age difference between him and I happened to be exactly the same as the age difference between me and my father, which was mildly disturbing.
And then, at last, as the timer for the tower going online dropped below the five minute mark, the word was given to head for home, all gates green. Back to VFK I went, calling it a night when I hit the station. But it was not the end of things for DBRB. He had an op planned for two hours later, in which he planned to hunt the great truffle whale or some such. I will have to go read the forums to see how that turned out.
Meanwhile, I still do not know how badly I suck at the logi thing. But I am going to remember to buy some drugs. I swear I’ll have them next time.