Writer’s Note: This is the story of moving my Aeon back to safe space after a campaign deployment. While some may interpret this as an op-ed, it was written as a story of one pilot trying to bring home the most expensive and slowest moving ship they own. It was written as I was in the process of moving, expecting full well to be documenting the precursor to the inevitable ALOD and recording for posterity’s sake. This is my tale.
It all started when we moved from 4-EP12 and into lowsec. I had a feeling, right then, that this was going to end poorly. This feeling was only reinforced when we first arrived in Sakht and a safe POS was not even erected. There was a blockade runner on the scene anchoring it as we landed. For an organization that prides itself on being the most organized group in Eve, an organization that towered every single moon in 6VDT before that fateful fight, this seemed rushed. No matter, though. We moved into the neighborhood to finish off a retreating enemy. What is the worst that could happen?
The rest of the campaign went on without so much as a lone straggler getting picked off and I got to break in my super on the last few structure grinds of Dominion Sov before it becomes a thing of the past. Things were going well, until my personal life got busy. One day I logged in to find that everyone was gone. The various Messages of the Day were a mixed bag, but confirmed my worst fears. They had left without me and a handful of others. Well, that is not the way I wanted my first super deployment to end. No worries, I thought, certain I would find a way home. Surely with a coalition of this scale, many players had been left behind in the hasty retreat and we would have an organized retrieval, right?
A CALCULATED PLAN
Several days later a post goes up to rescue the players who had been left. This was perfect, but that it is on a Saturday that I work is less so. A quick conversion of Eve time to my home time showed that I could attend the final convoy if I got off work on time. Unfortunately, the original announcement mentioned only saving those pilots and assets logged off in 4-EP, an eternity away in a post-Phoebe world. I was going to have to get there myself with every ounce of wit I had. Being a Goon, and a terrible one at that, did not give me much confidence.
My first action was to pull up Dotlan and GARPA Topographical Survey, a fantastic tool developed in-house for The Imperium designed to give the best route planning in the game. Using every tool available, I started theorizing some possible routes. I must have spent two days poring over data to find the least-populated systems during the least-populated times. I was going to do this right, with ample preparation.
I jumped one of my characters into a travel-fit interceptor and hauled ass to Sakht. Once in Sakht, I bought a Falcon after I realized I did not have enough room to light a cyno in a travel Stiletto. The ECM, reduced LO requirement, cloak, and reduced cyno time stood out as clear benefits. Was it the absolute best ship? Probably not. In retrospect, a plethora of rookie ships with a cyno would have served my purposes. Lesson number one learned. Still, it could be worse.
Sakht’s local population dropped enough, and the next system was empty. I warped my Aeon and a boot Archon to the gate and jumped. As I jumped, two interceptors landed on the gate. I had travel fit the Aeon and the Archon to warp in 10 seconds, with the Archon having warp core stabilizers and the Aeon having EWAR immunity, I felt pretty confident even before considering the ECM of the Falcon. Sure enough, I was able to get both away before either interceptor decloaked. I got to a safe tower that was still online in system and moved the Falcon, logging the carriers off in system. One jump down, who knows how many to go.
I burned to the next system, only to find that the place I had originally planned on jumping to, JP4-AA, was filled with more Pizza pilots than I felt comfortable with. After deliberating for some time and being patient, I found a suitable system. After lighting the cyno and jumping the carriers, I warped the Aeon to a safe so it could cloak in peace, but was forced to log off the Archon as I had no cloak fit. A member of Pizza entered local while the Aeon was still in warp and my heart sank. I was certain that this is how it all ends.
With only about a minute left on the cyno, I spammed d-scan. Please no probes, please no dictors. To my surprise, he left without so much as a peep within d-scan range. Either that or he was a cloaked Proteus. Or a combat recon. Probably a combat recon. Maybe he did not see the cyno, I told myself. Counting my good fortune I pressed on.
PARCHED FOR LUCK
The next system scarred me about as much as Sakht: ZXB-VC. It was the only way to get from Delve to Fountain, and Pizza, Black Legion., Fountain Core alliances, and more would undoubtedly watching it like a hawk. As I moved into position, I figured that if I got here, maybe the convoys would come get me. It was so close to 4-EP that they would be dumb not to, right? A well-tanked Aeon can take a world of hurt. If I made it here, I would be ok. If I got lucky, I would make it to Y-2ANO and I would be so close you could taste it.
While I moved the cyno into position, I noticed we still had a POS up and the system was mercifully empty. Perfect. I got 250km off the armed POS and lit the cyno. The carriers jumped in, aligned to the POS and began to cap chain. I refit to full cap and waited. It did not take long. Black Legion. and Sorry We’re In Your Space Eh both had a pilot in system as the cyno went down. I cloaked the Falcon and warped the carriers into the POS. As their capacitors filled up, I logged the carriers off with a travel fit. I could wait. Kerbal Space Program just released 1.0, after all.
After a few hours of waiting, I logged my cyno back in. System was empty. Awesome. I jumped to Y-2ANO. Also empty. Let us see what happens, shall we? I logged the carrier in. ZXB-VC was empty. I waited a few minutes. Still empty. If they were going to trap me, they are doing well so far. The pilots that I had seen were logged off and in unknown ships. I waited a bit longer. Nothing. I log in the super, and still nothing. I waited another two minutes, and then decided to risk it. In retrospect, this was a rash decision.
Downtime was too far away to tank, but I felt ballsy, I had been lucky so far. As my carriers entered warp to the gate, I was still clear. This is going so well! As they hit the gate, my luck began to turn. A Black Legion. pilot logged into Y-2ANO. No need to worry yet. He may not be on the gate. He may be in a hauler. Who knows. As I hit ctrl-space on the Aeon, a friendly black box with white letters informed me it was too late: it was already jumping. Well, here’s to hope! I got back on the Falcon and hit D-Scan. A ship popped up on short range.
MISTAKES WERE MADE
I am man enough to admit I panicked. This is exactly what I was afraid of happening, and props to the pilot for executing it almost perfectly. I say almost because of the ship choice: an Ares landed on gate with my Falcon. Saved! I warped the carriers out to a safe POS and did not even have to decloak the Falcon thanks to the WCS. Unfortunately, I now knew that Black Legion. knew exactly what I had and what I was doing with it. No more assuming anonymity and hoping to squeak by unnoticed. I rinsed and repeated capping up to full, waiting for jump fatigue to expire, fitting a travel fit, moving fuel, and logging out, and waited paitently. After about an hour, I moved the cyno to KVN- and warped 250km off a safe POS. Local was empty, lit a cyno, jumped, and warped into the POS. About halfway through the POS cycle, another Black Legion. interceptor appeared in local, this time warping to my cyno and attempting to engage the Falcon. After getting about two volleys of missiles from his Crow, I landed a jam and permajammed him until I could warp to the POS at the end of the cyno. I had logged out the supers, but he seemed intent on waiting outside the armed POS for whatever reason. Cursing that you cannot man alliance POSes, I was content to log off in KVN-36 and wait some more.
Little did I know how long I would be required to wait. Over the next few days, I periodically logged my cyno alt in to see the status of the system. I always found either Black Legion or a Fountain Core member in system, so I promptly logged out each and every time. It is OK, I thought. I will join the convoy on Saturday! They added Sakht, Y-2ANO, and more to the list of systems to start from, so surely I will be able to join. Besides, one super is not enough to take on Black Legion and Fountain Core, but the full force of The Imperium is enough to assure security.
THE WORST CAN HAPPEN
The Saturday of the move op came, and I went to work. I have a rather draconian workplace that does not allow much outside contact, but even still, I received quite a few pings on TMC communications, GSF, and the boasting on Reddit. I counted my blessings to not be among those few who fell prey to the very folks I had avoided previously. Proud that I was justified in my fears, I was glad that the welp was out of the way and moving could resume. That sounded great until I got home. In the wake of the loss, leadership saw fit to cancel the final move op. After all, most pilots had already moved out. There were some off-hand promises to save the final few folks eventually, but not today. Today we sulked with our tail between our legs after getting complacent. OK, I remember thinking, as long as we late time zone folks get an opportunity to move, I will wait.
For almost a week, I stayed logged off, hoping to bore the pilots into complacency while I waited for a glimmer of hope. Not entirely idle, I constantly checked the forums and jabber for some hope that we would be saved. There was some back and forth on the forums, and the MOTDs of relevant channels were changed, but no solid plan was laid out for the few remaining supers.
I logged in my cyno only to find KVN- still camped. I was certainly beginning to feel more like content logged off than content to be logged off. It was at this point I began to ping the few friends in leadership I had. Certainly, there was a plan. Much to my chagrin, I was met with “lol, RIP.” One director was kind enough to explain that there just was not enough demand for a final fleet. The number of trapped supers was much lower than I had expected, and some of those supers had been there since the last time we took Delve. After pleading that one last opportunity might be able to save the rest of us, I was referred to another director. Who referred me to another. Who promised absolutely nothing, except to hear me out. The last director promised to rescue me, just as soon as it was US prime, and there was a wormhole direct from YA0-XJ to Fountain.
Turns out, most of leadership was content with what had been saved and OK with resigning the rest to their fate. Turns out my idea of the worst case scenario was not quite bad enough. I was being abandoned.
Ah, screw it. It’s just a ship.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Set’s Chaos.