Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chapter Eight Delta

Fleet Battles - Where Nodes Go to Die

ISK Balance: 13,951,546.00

The four day delay between the last entry and now is the result of numerous things, but most pertinent to EVE's universe is the fact that a lone neutral must ford the waters of the pipe to a place like FAT-6P very careful, and hence, very slowly. I've crept my way through gate camps and roaming gangs of multiple allegiances, all entirely too willing to assume I'm in league with their nemesis of choice. I've abused my cloaking device to no end, using it to remain nigh undetectable in a safespot hastily created after my arrival in each new system, hiding in the impossible expanse of each system until - like an animal oft-preyed upon - I scuttle towards the next gate, jamming the "Jump" button while fervently hoping luck is on my side. I am reminded constantly of the Interstellar Alcohol Conglomerate's early days in 0.0, where we often ridiculed the AFK cloakers who were so big and bad - invisible in their safespots - whom I am no better than now. But it is a matter of survival, just as it was for them, and so I feel justified.

During the course of my fearful scurrying, I came upon the chance to turn the tables and become the predator. After a particularly bulky Interdiction gang passed through my system and I - curious and foolish - followed them at length, I happened not upon the blob but rather a lone Caracal sitting on a gate. A target I had a chance at killing...he was sitting on the gate, offering a rapid method of escape, but...why the hell not attack?

I was struck by an even more ingenius idea - why not ask for a 1v1? The 1v1 is, of course, the mythical holy grail of EVE PvP; sought by all and attained by none. Except, as opposed to the true Holy Grail, those that seek it are not met with gruesome deaths; rather, once touched by the promise of the 1v1 its pursuers are cursed to whine for eternity at its inattainability.

Or so the legend goes.

This Caracal pilot was a 2007 creation, and therefore wary of accepting a 1v1 from a 2004 pilot. Nevertheless, he accepted. Despite expecting the Interdiction gang or any other manner of nasty instapoppage to come through the gate, I [url=""]engaged him[/url] directly on the gate with no heed for my own hide or Lux Esto's poor excuse for structural integrity.

My foe for the moment was most likely expecting to lose horribly, and so he asked that we not fight to the death. I obliged, my mind already racing with the surrealism of the situation. An honorable 1v1, on a gate, in 0.0, with gangs roving all about, and the crucible of the Alliance-Coalition cataclysm just two jumps away? Nonsense.

And yet, as our shields failed at exactly the same moment, we called it a tie, bid the other "good fight," and went on our seperate ways. How did this happen? Why did the galaxy hold still for our casual, just-for-fun cruiser on cruiser 1v1? The holy grail exists in the most stunning environments, and my armor now has the dings to prove it. Thank you, Aclcla of RISE.

A note on RISE: I've never had a strong opinion of RISE, by simple virtue they were the enemy for much of my 0.0 existence, and not the "true enemy" at that; proxies, rather. Never mind what I have or do think of them, now I know at least one RISE member is an admirable EVE player. It hardly qualifies as an epiphany, but it's certainly a strong observation.

I expected fully with all of my rationality and logic-ridden mind to be completely ganked when I attempted to enter FAT-6P. Of course, I jumped right in anyway.

And yet, of all 220 pilots in the system, there was but one - a Harpy - even near the gate. It was not that my overview hadn't loaded. It was not that I was already dead and in a station lightyears away and hadn't realized it just yet. There was just one ship watching the gate.

One day my luck will run out and I'll be podded everytime I undock. Just wait.

I made my safespot and cloaked, thoughts blurred by recent occurances. First my 1v1, and now this uncamped gate? What was 0.0 coming to? Where were the drone-spamming lag fests, the node crashes, the doomsdays, the dozens of dreadnought skeletons floating - perforated by fusilades of enemy fire - as a testament to the horror of war? I couldn't help but smile, though I couldn't tell why.

If not the gate, I knew the station was camped to kingdom come as my scanner told me so - along with a new personal record of three motherships - and thus I was sorely tempted.

While the camp at the station was slow to react to my prodding at their bulk, I was accosted by several interceptors and a full-fledged gate camp upon my return to the gate I entered through. I turned tail just in time and caught my breath back in my safespot.

Between the ceaseless local chatter, jokes about IAC drunkenness and generally being an annoying insect to the present superpowers, I was having a hell of a time being a neutral in a total warzone.

Other than these temporary excitements, it was standard one-sided 0.0 siege warfare, full of camping and that general feeling of "nothing to do." Siege warfare is a central, but not particularly favored, part of large scale alliance clashes, and any 0.0 citizen will experience it at some point. I felt radically different from the last time I was caught in this situation; I felt more like an observer than a participant, free to forumlate and express my own opinions without the smothering influence of an alliance on my shoulders. It was all infinitely more interesting, partially because everyone wanted to kill me. The reason I ramble about all of this is because it's a bit of a pasttime I don't think occurs to many people, and one with relatively few strings attached, at that. When you're bored, just get podded.

Then, as is often the case in a heavily sieged system, a cynosural field opened, but no carrier or dreadnought appeared on scanner. Rather, a Wyvern - I beamed at my scanner and instantly started working out how I was going to approach it. After working out an approach and some fast reflexes, I had the perfect vantage point from which to oogle Count TaSennine's Wyvern. I had never seen a mothership in person before, and looking over the powerful angles of its architecture reminded me of the surge of awe that filled me when I first encountered a carrier. But a mothership: all the influences that coalesced to form that ultimate flagship mirror the same influences that have created the legends of the real world. When I see a mothership or titan, I think not just of the pilot, but the miners, manufacturers, escorts, POS tenders and defenders, and everyone else who put a bit of their time into the majestic icon of a mothership.

Also, it helps that the Wyvern isn't ugly as sin.

Of course, an addendum: thanks to malet for the 10 million ISK - it will be funding a new Stabber in the future, I'm sure.

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