Monday, May 10, 2010

War and Piracy (second rebirth)

(originally written and posted July 2009)
The war rages on. But does it impact the life of a lonely pod pilot?

The war between the Empires continues, the blood toll rising daily. Families torn asunder, friends now turned to enemies; such is the cost of peace and politics in New Eden.
Some events go unheralded; victories and defeats all in the name of duty and honour.
Economies collapse, piracy is on the rise. Is there an end in sight? Can there ever truly be peace?

I never felt like a patriot. It wasn't me. My family were immigrants and industrialists, not warriors or statesmen. I had already drifted far from my origins. Becoming a Capsuleer, I knew I had become more than anyone in my family before - immortal, rich beyond their imaginings, and a wanderer in the darkness between stars. When the empire wars began nearly a year ago, I watched from the sidelines. It was, after all, not my problem. However, like many others, I was curious about the war. In the springtime after war broke out, I decided to take a short stint in the Gallente Militia.

As a solo pilot, I had never put much stock in the corporate experience. The company that helped train me was quick to let me go without a second thought, although life in The Scope wasn't much different. A large group of pod pilots fly in The Scope, but they don't have any common goals, aspirations, or the ability to really coordinate and work as a team the way other corporations seemed to. So when I went into the militia office to sign up for a term in the Gallente Militia, I didn't really pay attention to the details, and simply signed on the bottom line. That was not my first mistake, nor would it be my last.

I had recently relocated to Jufvitte, a border system on the edge of the disputed regions. There was a Federal Defence Union station in system, with a variety of agents to work for. I'd been running missions my entire career, and thought this would be no different. I called up the local agent on my neocomm and applied for a mission. I was shocked at the mission offered - fly 13 systems across high- and lo-sec Caldari Space and assault an outpost in their border zone. This mission went smoothly, although flying to and from the system was challenging, as I was chased 4 systems across The Citadel by the Caldari Navy. Several other missions were similar - fly far across space to a Caldari border system and assault an outpost.

One evening, as I was assaulting an outpost, I was surprised to see a Caldari Capsuleer warp into the mission. I hadn't paid close attention to the information packet handed out by the militia recruiter - and didn't realize that my arrival in the system would be noted, tracked, and I would likely be attacked by either Caldari militia or local pirates. My initial reaction was best - I immediately aligned and warped to my exit stargate. There was no ship waiting there, and I should have just jumped out and accepted my failure, as my ship was not configured to battle experienced pod pilots. But I was so used to the life of a hi-sec mission runner I just re-aligned to the deadspace gate and warped back in. At the gate there were two other Caldari pilots, and they were prepared to battle other capsuleers. Within moments I was webbed and scrambled, unable to get away as they locked weapons onto my Catalyst-class destroyer and began assaulting me. I returned the favor, targeting one of them and opening fire, but they were just out of range of my 125mm railguns, especially with antimatter charges. I was missing as often as hitting, and the well-known Caldari shield tank was holding up easliy against my intermittent fire. I continued to attempt to warp away as they quickly ate through the shields on my ship, and began to penetrate the armor. In an unbalanced fight (3 to 1) I sat basically unable to strike back and merely watch my ship dissove from under me. The explosion of my ship disrupted their scramblers just enough for me to get away - but having failed to complete my mission. My personal disappointment (and the frustration from the agent who had hired me) led to a quick end of my contract with the Gallente Militia. I flew for them for a mere two weeks, and had nothing to show but a Pend Insurance payout on my overpriced Catalyst. I was done, disgusted with my lack of understanding and unprepared to lose ships anywhere, anytime, to the raiding Caldari militia pilots. I contacted the local militia office, and resigned, realizing I wasn't made of "the right stuff" for the war.

Fast forward to high summer. I watched from the sidelines as the Caldari conquered system after system across Gallente space, reducing the "safe" space to fly in to small pockets of high-security systems scattered across known space. I was a more experienced pilot today - I still hadn't had to take out a fellow capsuleer, but I was smarter about how to avoid pirates and other pilots, and I had been studying the techniques of ship combat, improving my ability to command and utilize the offensive and defensive systems in my ships - I had even qualified to fly the advanced frigates and destroyers available to the Gallente pilot, although I felt I wasn't quite ready to fly and lose a ship that expensive. I was, after all, still a solo pilot. That was all about to change. I had come across a corporation that seemed willing to let me learn the actual techniques of combat against other pod pilots, and they had recently signed up with the Gallente Militia to fight back against the Caldari horde. I felt like it was time to try again - time to step back up and sign on the dotted line. I was going to re-enlist.

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