Unlike the previous week, tonight started off to be rather boring. As per my schedule, I lifted off from base and slipped into Kamela. My orders for the past couple of weeks were to run careful security checks throughout the Bleak Lands and assist alerted Imperial bases in securing themselves from Minmatar attacks. If a system is considered to be contested, my team’s job is to secure the local bases, and thus decontesting the system. Over the past couple of weeks, a few of my colleagues and I were very busy. Each night we would secure an average of five complexes and decontest two to three systems. When my duty began, I discovered to my horror that Matari infiltrators set off multiple false alarms throughout many of our major systems. Nothing appeared to be contested from these particular systems, but the congestion of alerts was so great, we had to assuage the concerns of each complex before we could focus on the contested systems.
The members of my team were Reese Traint (New Light Corporation), Jonathan Theodoulos, of the 24th Imperial Crusade, and his brother Onesimus, a new member of VFOR. Both Jonathan and Onesimus are fine lads. Though I am proud to be their uncle, I have found these boys to be young, and in need of maturity.
I left Jonathan and Onesimus to continue their scanning of the Kurniainen and Saidusairos systems, while Reese and I worked to resolve the debacle in Iesa. Entering the system of Iesa, we discovered that there were about a dozen complexes that had gone on alert. Each one needed attention, and we knew we would not be able to close in on the more important systems until these were resolved, so Reese Traint focused on the Minor Complexes in his Punisher, while I took off in my Crusader to calm down the larger plexes.
It must have taken us a couple of hours, but in the end, the two of us were able to secure all twelve complexes, freeing us up to scan down the more important contested systems. Reese took off for Lamaa while I turned the other direction and headed for Kurniainen. So far, this evening was not going well. We were tired and I was looking forward to heading back to base, relaxing with some Mozart, and munch on some of those wonderful oatmeal raisin cookies my niece sent me from home.
I checked in with the two boys, and Onesimus reported that he couldn’t find any alerted bases in the two contested systems of Kurniainen and Saidusairos. “Ugh,” I thought to myself, “this is not going well at all!” I reached over my console and flipped on the Region Reports, showing me the contested systems within the war zone. Sure enough, both of those systems were RED, and then I noticed another RED appearing on the screen: Sahtogas.
I flipped on the comms, and said, “Boys, I’m making a quick stop in Sahtogas. It shows to be contested, and I am hoping to get that straightened out.” I thought for a while, and realized that this is turning out to be a bummer of a night. “Jonathan,” I continued, “How about heading back and completing the reports for us? Onesimus and I will do a quick run through Sahtogas and then head home.” I didn’t think I would find anything. My score so far tonight was ‘zip’ and I didn’t think anything could ruin my losing streak.
I continued on, and finally jumped into Sahtogas. To my delight, I found two complexes on alert and no war targets in system. “Wonderful,” I thought, “This was going to be easy.” I quickly ran a profile check on the neutral pilots in system, and all five of them checked out all positive, so I started relaxing a little more, thinking none of them were pirates. Being a member of VFOR, we do not deal with pirates unless it is a matter of life or death. Besides, though I was in an interceptor, it was currently fitted for speed. I had no scramblers or webbers installed, because I usually don’t run into trouble, especially on quiet nights like tonight. Checking the reports again, I confirmed that Sahtogas was still contested, so I popped the crusader into gear, and sped off for the closest complex.
Securing a complex is not hard. The empire has it setup where all you need to do is to move in on the primary bunker, and run and orbit scan for between 15 to 20 minutes. Once the scan is complete, the complex is secured and I can move on. Nice and simple!
I reached the acceleration gate of the first complex and jumped in. Once inside I saw the bunker, which was about 68km away. I punched my micro-warp drive and quickly reached a broad orbit around the bunker. My scans began and I sat back working on the scans. After about ten minutes I noticed my directional scanner picked up a Jaguar within 15 AUs of the complex. I looked at Local again, and didn’t see any pirate, but the Minmatar Assault Ship made me a bit nervous. I continued with my scans and suddenly alarms went off in my ship. The Jaguar had entered the complex and began an aggressive approach towards me! “Glory Honkers,” I caught myself saying out loud, “This was supposed to be a quiet night!”
I took a quick scan of the Assault Ship, and bugged out. Remember, I wasn’t prepared to go head-on with an opponent, so to stick around would have been foolish. I quickly slid my ship in on a local jump gate, banked around, and shot for a safe spot I had set up earlier that week. I came to a stop in the middle of ‘no where’, and flipped on my directional scanners. I tightened the beam to 30 degrees and scanned the second plex and found it to be empty. I then turned my scanner and low and behold there was the Jag, sitting real pretty in the first complex.
Running the name down, I found the owner to be Ghost Hunter. I pulled up his dossier, and it showed him to have a Security Standing of a 3.4. Pirates show up as a NEGATIVE number, so I was a bit taken back by this. I looked at his corporation: NAQAM. “Huh, never heard of it.” VFOR’s database are kept up pretty well, and this corp didn’t show up to be a pirate corp, so I was more than a bit confused. “Well, maybe it was a misunderstanding,” I thought. He didn’t lock me, so rather than panic, I’ll just move my attention to the second complex. I kicked on my warp drives and headed off. Arriving at the second acceleration gate, I jumped in and moved in on the bunker. The timer started and I watched my scans carefully. After about three minutes, in pops this Jaguar again, and starts to slowly move in on the timer with me. Now, if I had any doubts about this guys intentions, they were quickly dispelled. This neutral wanted to hurt me!!! Flipping on the drives, I kicked the crusader around and headed off to my safe spot. Now, I had the timers run down a bit on both complexes. I only needed one, but I soon realized that this was going to be a long night.
Scanners showed Ghost Hunter to be in the second plex, so I quickly warped to the first, hit the acceleration gate and sped quickly to the timer. Half way there, in jumps the Jag, and he slowly moves towards me. HA! The dude doesn’t have a micro-warp drive! I knew I immediately had an advantage on him. I was on the timer, and orbited it, while he was still 60km away. It took him a while to get to me, and by the time he was within targeting range, I added a few more seconds to the timer, and I sped out! Wa-Hoo! This was fun! This routine went on for a while. I would jump into the plex where he was not at, and head for the timer, he would follow me in and chase after me. By the time he reached me, I added more seconds to the timer, and as quick as a greased pig after a July rain, I shot out of there before he could get a lock on me.
By this time Onesimus arrived and we decided to collaborate. Ones (pronounced “owns”) took off for a complex and headed for the timer. This caused Ghost Hunter to jump after him. While he was chasing my nephew around, I took off for the other complex, and sat on the timer. Ones would get away in his executioner and the Jaguar would come huffing after me. By the time he arrived, I shot off, knowing that Ones was on the other timer. Oh what fun!!!
After a couple of cycles of this cat and mouse game, we had to stop. Ghost Hunter wasn’t a fool and he quickly learned our game. So we setup a safe spot directly in between the two complexes and while monitoring our antagonist, I directed Onesimus on which complex to hit. Now me, I tire easy. I am not a warrior, but a theology scholar. I am quite content with my books, and computers studying the latest archeological findings. My nephew on the other-hand was bubbling over with excitement and energy! He would zip in and out staying just ahead of our slower opponent, running the timer down each time. After a couple of passes, Ones stopped in on my safe spot to get his bearings. This was when I realized our advantage!
“Onesimus,” I said over the comm., “Notice how we are directly in line with the two complexes? Let’s wait here a minute and try something.” I realized that Ghost Hunter was scanning us also, and while doing so, he could see Onesimus’ executioner to be next to mine. The one thing he could not see is was depth!
We waited a couple of minutes, and the Jag quieted down, realizing that his ‘mouse’ was with me, in between the complexes. He didn’t have probes therefore he couldn’t get a lock on our exact position, so we were safely out of harm’s reach. Sure enough, the assault ship stopped and waited for Onesimus to make the next move.
“Now, Ones ole boy, just head carefully over to that other plex,” I said to my nephew. “If he is watching us, he might not know you have warped to the next complex, and think you are still with me!”
Onesimus deftly turned his executioner toward the empty complex, and slipped into warp. Sure enough, the Jaguar didn’t move! Ones jumped through the acceleration gate and quickly got on the timer. It was down to under three minutes! My nephew kept a tight orbit on the bunker, and for a while Ghost Hunter didn’t move.
“Two minutes,” Onesimus called out over the comm. System.
“One minute, forty seconds…. One minute, twenty seconds…” Still no move from Ghost Hunter.
I turned my crusader and started slowly moving towards the complex where my nephew was riding the timer. This must have tipped off the Jaguar, because he immediately warped toward the other complex! My heart pounded! “He’s coming in! He’s coming in!” I shouted, “Be careful!!!”
“Forty seconds… thirty seconds… twenty seconds…”
“I see him Uncle.” Onesimus calmly commented. “He just entered the plex.”
“Ten, nine, eight… ,“ ticked off my nephew. I held my breath!
“Three, two, one!”
“Warp my Boy! Warp!” If I could have jumped up and down in my pod, I would have! My heart was racing and I could see this wicked person locking his scrams and webs on my poor nephew.
There was silence for a couple of seconds, and all I could hear was the thump, thump, thump of my heart. Then Onesimus’ voice came across the comms, “I’m out!”
“We turned our ships and warped to the nearest gate. I leaned over and checked the reports.
Wa-Hoo!!!!! We did it!
We carefully headed back to base. I remember my nephew as a young lad, running around in his bare feet at the estate. Now, my view of him has started to change. Sure, he’s young, and yes, he still does things that makes me nervous, but now I have started seeing my nephew in another light. No longer, Onesimus the quirky child, but Onesimus the warrior.
My heart swelled with pride.