|Oldie but a goodie|
The Taranis remained a tight fit. Old and uncomfortable. Rixx cracked his knuckles as he undocked and set the waypoints using his mindlink. New Eden unfolded and he decided to hoof it straight thru High Security space. The twenty-seven jumps he'd save would shave off an hour of flight time. He wouldn't even bother with the directional scanner, this was a burn trip, and seeing big fat targets in space he couldn't attack would only make him grumpy.
Third jump in brought him to the Piekura gate and the border of Low Sec and High. More than anything it represented another border. This would be his first jump into Piekura in more than four years, a system he spent a lot of time in when he was younger. He'd fought can thieves, waged several wars, started his first Corporation, and made good friends in the system. As with most places in New Eden, his blood was all over it.
He burned straight thru it. He wasn't much for sentiment, but that didn't mean he ignored his own history either. Best to get on with today, the past is dead in more ways than one. He leaned back in his podkit and allowed his mind to meld with the ship, this was the dream state. The conscious mind wanders off and lets the unconscious mind fly the ship, a meditative and relaxing half-sleep he learned in his years in Null.
The silent alarm awoke him as he appeared in local. Docking requires more attention and it was time to get the fleet formed up. He dialed up the communicator and smiled as familiar voices filled the comms. Almost thirty pilots had showed up for this operation, more than enough. The Taranis docked and he was back in the CQ organizing the fleet in less than five minutes. Nothing unusual, just the typical stuff. Making sure everyone had the right ship and everything was working. A few pilots were having trouble with their communicators, but that was also normal. Another half-hour and he was sitting outside in the swarm of Band pilots laying out the navigational markers.
He'd decided on a Blaster fitted Harpy for this trip. In fact, most of the ships in this fleet were in-your-face fitted Assault Frigates. Mixed in with a few Logistical supports and a couple of surprises in case they needed them. They spent the first half-dozen jumps to the Null entrance fooling around with the links, but nothing seemed to work. They rarely used the damn things and everyone was rusty about how exactly they worked. While he managed the fleet a couple more pilots volunteered to help, but to no avail. Eventually it was discovered the link pilot hadn't trained one of the skills needed yet. Rixx laughed. Pirates. Hell, we'd go without them.
Once more he lectured the fleet on the protocol of Null. Squads were assigned roles that could be communicated swiftly, scouts assigned, and early jumpers named. He was hoping they'd get a half-dozen jumps in before intel picked them up, but you could never count on it.
It had been awhile since he'd been down this pipe. His tacticals still held however and the fleet moved professionally enough. Sadly Null seemed mostly empty this close to Low Sec and that was unusual. Bubbles lined the gates in many places, but no one was watching them or waiting to ambush anyone. Disappointing. They continued to move deeper and the scouts got further ahead. Anything flushed out simply vanished and it was starting to feel like a lost cause.
Rixx knew better. This was Null and this was how it always was. Deathly quiet for ages and then suddenly filled with whatever the locals decided to bring. That was when the scout reported the three ships manning bubbles in the next system over. The fleet held on the gate and Rixx sent the first-twos in to assist the scout. No sense in spiking local and scarring off the targets. They may have been reported and they may not have been, either way it was better to play by the book until things went south.
The scout, George, did his job perfectly and the entire fleet landed right inside the three enemy ships. The Maller was primary and point spreads were given to the other two. Within seconds of engaging the Maller went down with the Hurricane and Vexor not far behind. The fleet aligned out as they waited for wrecks to be looted. The scout ship had been lost, but otherwise the fleet was unscathed.
He decided to swing the fleet around and come in the back-door to N-RAEL. Hopefully someone would be home there of all places. Some of the best fights he'd ever experienced had been in that system.
Sadly the only thing waiting for them was a linked Orthrus who didn't want to fight. They tried a couple of pincer moves to get him off his perch, but that only resulted in a couple of ships being lost to his ranged alpha. It was pointless and so he brought everyone back to low.
Not bad for a three-hour roam into Null. It's good experience for everyone and they managed to get almost everyone home safe. Not that safety is a priority, but it does help to encourage more participation. And that is always a good thing.
They'd plan more of these in the near future and start putting together even more gangs led by even more experienced Fleet Commanders. Who knows where the future leads? And in New Eden, it is always best to be prepared for anything.
Even a ride back home in that damn Taranis.