Ranger Gama drew Asher in the Theta Squad Secret Santa gift exchange, so his problem immediately became, “What do you get the 23rd best FC in the Imperium?”
He decided to get Asher a Reavers event since Theta just krabs in Delve day and night I suppose.
The event was to be a frigate race. The route and frigate type were to be announced at the time of the race when Ranger Gama would hand them out. He imported ten frigates, one for himself, one for Asher, and eight more for whoever showed up in time to claim one.
The planned time for the race was delayed on a couple of occasions, which worked out for me as I happened to sit down at my desk just after Asher pinged Reavers to let them know it was on. I was in soon enough to claim one of the frigates, which turned out to be a Daredevil, a Serpentis faction frigate.
Me being me, I quickly logged an alt into Jita to buy a SKIN because I just can’t undock anymore without one. The Glacial Drift SKIN was available and cheap, but then I saw some of the Serpentis Victory SKINs listed as well. Those were given away as part of Alliance Tournament XV. They were much more pricey, going for over 300 million ISK, but also more rare. So I picked up one of those and contracted it to myself and activated it.
The race was originally going to be a point-to-point run, but Asher suggested something to make it more interesting… or dangerous… or both… so the instructions were updated in the fleet MOTD.
Each of the ships had a name for the occasion. I ended up with the ship named “In.”
We undocked our frigates and met up on a citadel in ROIR. From there the race began.
The frigates themselves were setup for speed, capable of well over 5km/sec with the included faction MWD burning. Otherwise, as you can see from one of the Daredevils that got caught, there was a bit of shielding and some festival launchers armed with fireworks to use along the way.
As we flew off Apple Pear showed up and was given a ship. Only seven had been handed out so he started off a few gates behind us. Given that the route was static and everybody was warping at the same speed he needed some hostile intervention to help his cause.
The rest of us warped along towards the first destination.
This was where I started to have problems. I was up with the leaders when one of our cats managed to get himself caught in the handle of a shopping bag which was hooked over the door across the hall from me and began to thrash wildly, seeming more likely to harm himself via that than anything the bag would do. I dropped my headset, grabbed him, lifted him up to take off any strain, then calmed him for a bit before slipping his head out and letting him run off. He was okay and I had my daughter dispose of the bag, but now I was behind the pack, though still out in front of Apple Pear. At least I was still alive, having sat uncloaked on a gate for a bit.
Then I ran into another issue. When we arrived in JU-OWQ in Deklein, my auto-pilot route sent me back the way we came to get to C4C-Z4. I still do not understand why, as I checked later and did not see any systems anywhere close by on my avoid list. So I passed by Apple Pear going the other way, made it through CCP-US, where he had reported a gate camp on both gates, and on towards Fade.
Well, it did matter a bit. My route was two jumps longer, but it turned out to be a bit safe as Asher and the rest of the pack ran into some trouble, with two Daredevils getting popped in K4YZ-Y. I made it to C4C without incident, but was easily 3 minutes behind Asher, Ranger Gama, and Norgraad. I warped on grid with the Keepstar and started burning away from it and the few carriers that had fighters out to try and nab us.
Asher and Ranger Gama seemed to do okay, but Norgraad managed to get popped by the locals, though gamely carried on in his pod. They warped off, heading to the next waypoint while I lingered on grid watching the stopwatch on my iPhone slowly count off the minutes. The leaders were reporting some people waiting for them ahead, but by the time I was able to warp off towards the next destination they seemed to have given up. I left Apple Pear behind on the Keepstar grid and went in chase of the leaders.
While there was mutterings on coms about the dangers ahead, they were often vague, like the leaders did not want to help those chasing them catch up. But it didn’t really matter. The only hope I had of catching up was to warp straight from gate to gate and just hope to crash or burn past any gate camp. So off I went.
Fortunately for myself an Apple Pear, the path through was pretty sparsely populated. At least that was fortunate for us as far as staying alive went. It also meant that there wasn’t much to slow down Asher or Ranger Gama or even Norgraad in his pod. Norgraad’s slow warps mean I was able to pass him at least. He got caught in Cloud Ring while I burned on.
The only real peril for me was at the Alsavoinon gate in F7C-H0. There, on the boarder between null sec and low was the expected camp with a bubble setup. I landed straight in it and the campers were slow enough to react to my arrival that I thought I might make it through to the gate unscathed. However, burning in as fast as I did I hit the gate and bounced off it so far that I had to burn in again. I took some damage, dropping to half shields, as I made my way back to the gate again, but got through and was on my way.
Low sec space posed no threat and it wasn’t until the path brought me back into null sec that I ran into some additional trouble. There was a drag bubble in EWOK-K on the O-N8XZ gate that pulled me out of warp shy of the gate.
However, no hostiles were minding the store and a lone TNT pilot was plinking away at the bubble to take it down. I would have joined in to help… Asher and Ranger Gama were already over the finish line… but fireworks don’t do much. After that it was just a few more empty gates and I was over the finish line myself. There I burned over to Asher and Ranger Gama and joined in the shooting of fireworks.
Apple Pear showed up after a bit, followed by Elisha Okaski, who made it all the way from K4YZ-Y in his pod, earning him a special commendation.
For my third place finish I won a free ship of the line for whatever Asher’s next Reavers doctrine ends up being, mostly because Ranger Gama was the organizer so counted himself and Asher out of the contest. Elisha Okaski will get a ship as well for persevering through most of the race in a pod.
I handed Ranger Gama back my ship so he could use them for some future event and thanked him for setting this up and, of course, declaring me one of the prize winners. We’ll have to see what the next doctrine ends up being.
That was probably my last op of the year. Below some screen shots of us shooting fireworks. We had to turn the MWDs off as the ships were otherwise outrunning the launchers.