I log into a new notification that some alliance is declaring War on us. Again.
Again? Do I mean “we’re being wardecced again” or “it’s an alliance that’s already wardecced us, back for another swing”?
Okay, so let’s make our preparations! Thankfully, there isn’t anything to do in terms of system supplies, since the last wardec dropped not that long ago.
Unfortunately, it does mean that the last of our corp mates who isn’t yet ready for wormhole life needs to be booted out of the corp again so he doesn’t become a target while puttering around known space. Pity, as we just got him back in a few days ago, after the last wardec. Also, Moondog is on and wants to bring in his mining alt with some supplies, so it seems a very good idea to get that done before people are looking for us, and I set out to make that happen.
Tonight might be a little more complicated than MD’s original trip in, however, since we’re connected to a very busy area of lowsec. I scout the first of two stargates that he needs to jump through and find it camped in desultory fashion by a hurricane-class battlecruiser. There’s not much I can do about that in a scouting frigate, so I slip back to our tower and pick up a blackbird-class cruiser fit with a raft of electronic countermeasures that should make the hurricane unable to target anyone, let alone shoot them.
My plan is fairly simple: I’ll jump through the first gate, land about a hundred kilometers off the second gate, poke at the hurricane in the hopes it will try to engage me or at least sniff in my general direction, and once I’ve got him off the gate a good distance, MD can jump through and fly onward.
I proceed as planned, and fetch up about 110 km away from the gate, watching the hurricane circle the gate and waiting for him to notice me. He does so almost immediately, and after a bit of dithering about, swings around and starts burning my direction. I have no real hope of matching his speed, but that doesn’t stop me from wheeling about and flying away from him, mostly to pull him further from the gate.
As the distance between us dwindles (faster than I’d like), he gets a target lock and I start thinking about my options. Typically, a solo hurricane will have short range, high rate of fire autocannons fitted, but there’s a possibility — however slight — that he might be set up with slow, long-range, hard-hitting artillery cannons in the hopes of one- or two-shotting someone coming in through that gate. If that’s the case, he’s already dangerously close to the range where he can start applying that damage to my blackbird, a ship justifiably respected for its electronic warfare capabilities, but understandably mocked when it comes to its meager conventional defenses.
So, acting in what I believe are my own best interests, I acquire a target lock on the hurricane, tell Moondog to jump through and get moving, and hit the hurricane with my ECM modules.
Veteran low-sec warriors will already be shaking their heads and laughing at my mistake.
You see, virtually all of my PvP experience has been in null security and wormhole space.
In nullsec, there are star gates to navigate and gate camps to avoid, but there are no local police forces, no CONCORD, the space stations aren’t armed with sentry guns, and neither are the star gates. This is also (obviously) true in Wormholes, which go so far as to get rid of stations entirely and replace star gates with (un)natural wormhole phenomena. These are the situations I’m used to: you need to watch out for a pilot’s friends to come help (I am), but one thing you don’t usually have to worry about is interference from the environment.
This is not the case in low-sec space. There are still no police or concord forces, but there are automated guns on the stations and anchored around star gates, and they shoot at any troublemakers that cause a fuss within their (ridiculously long) range. The damage they deal can be handled if you’re in a sturdy enough ship, but even then it can really hurt.
And, as previously mentioned, I’m not in a very sturdy ship.
In theory, I knew about these things, but I wasn’t really thinking about them — they just don’t factor in my personal checklist of things to worry about in PvP. I’ve got bigger fish to fry: right now, I just want to shut this hurricane down.
The problem is this: right now, the hurricane isn’t a troublemaker. HE didn’t shoot at me yet. Yes, he obviously intends to, but he hasn’t, so when I target him with Electronic jamming, I become the troublemaker with whom the gate guns are meant to deal.
They hit really hard.
Now, to my credit, I realize what I’ve done almost as soon as I activate the ECM, and immediately commence warping away from the gate. But even with my quick reaction, by the time I’m out of danger and hidden in orbit around a random celestial, my shields and armor are gone, my hull structure is groaning like like an old arthritic dog and… yeah… it appears I’m on fire.
Still, at least I haven’t been followed by the hurricane. Some quick use of directional scan determines the battlecruiser’s pilot is back in orbit around his gate, and that the next gate I need to use is wonderfully clear of enemies, so I prod my poor blackbird into warp so I can get it back to the tower and repaired.
Veteran low-sec warriors will — again — be shaking their heads and laughing at my mistake.
You see, thanks to that whole “troublemaker” thing, I’ve been flagged with a GCC or “Global Criminal Countdown”, which prevents me from using any stargates for fifteen minutes following my nefarious behavior, so when I land on the gate, I am unable to jump and just sit there like an idiot. Again, I knew about this as a theoretical thing (it’s even something that that can sometimes affect you in null sec, I think) but, like being shot at by gate guns, it wasn’t something I’d ever experienced directly.
Well, there’s this saying we had when I was a kid, growing up in the wilds of the midwest: You can outrun the cop’s car, but not the cop’s radio.
Apparently, the gate gun AIs have been chatting, and the guns at THIS gate already have me on a “Shoot on Sight” list for the duration of the GCC. This, I’m ashamed to admit, I just didn’t know anything about at all.
The new guns make short work of what’s left of my blackbird. They have the decency to leave my escape pod alone, which gives me plenty of time to warp away and contemplate the scope of my (really, breathtaking) cockup, and how much I hate the security mechanics in Low-sec — a tepid mix of high-sec loophole jumping and nullsec danger, with few of the benefits of either. Bleh.
At least MD got his stuff into the wormhole. I wait out the rest of the GCC and join him and the rest of our cohorts in the wormhole.
We still have a lot to do that night, though none of it’s that sexy. It’s another evening of blowing up customs offices, and this time Moondog is able to stick around and join in which, while helpful, is a rather poor introduction to the excitement of wormhole life. Ahh well, can’t be helped.
Once everyone is home, we kill our lowsec connection to secure our system and switch into appropriate structure-bashing ships. Much envy is directed at the folks who fire lasers and, thus, don’t have to reload all the time. Eventually Custom’s Office #2 crumbles, and a tired cheer goes up.
At this point, several folks need to leave, but we were hoping to get office #3 down as well, so the remaining pilots reship yet again, looking for the biggest and boomiest guns we can fire. CB wins the lottery in this case, as Pax (from Cabbage’s corp) has one of the shiny new Tornado-class battlecruisers that just started rolling off production lines a few days ago, and while the Tornado is nice increase in the damage CB can inflict on an inanimate object, it’s not the best Pax himself can do, as he’s flying a Raven-class battleship built for exactly this sort of activity. The upshot of this is that CB gets to fly a shiny new ship (on loan), and we all get to take screenshots of it.
Out artistic picture-snapping passes the time as Customs Office #3 crumbles, and as it explodes, I call it a night.