Monday, December 2, 2013

Blog Banter 51: Other People's Cargo

Blog Banter #51, via Kirith Kodachi and Druur Monakh:

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EVE Online can be a game of heart-pounding, palm-sweating, adrenaline-fuelled ecstasy or agony. Sometimes over the years those reactions dim and what was once a panic inducing situation becomes commonplace routine. For some, the shakes never go away.

From Druur Monakh (Twitter: @DruurMonakh) we get the topic of this banter: what was your most nail-biting experience in EVE Online so far? It could be PvP in a 1v1 or 1000v1000, your first fight or your latest one, a scam so close to being uncovered too soon, a trap almost sprung on an unsuspecting victim or the roles reversed and you desperately try to escape.

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Oddly enough, I can't think of many nail-biting, nerve-wracking experiences I've had in EVE.  In fact, only one recent incident comes to mind, and it didn't even involve a single shot being fired.

Part of it comes from the fatalistic attitude EVE forces on people: when you undock a ship, consider it lost, right?  Never undock something you can't afford to lose?  Well, that's all well and good when it's your own ship and your own cargo you're putting on the line.  But when you're doing a favor for a friend, everything changes.

One of the old corp members was coming back from a long hiaitus, and was trying to consolidate his belongings which had been scattered about when he walked away for a while.  Simple enough ... only his effects included an Eos command ship.

Which he'd bought in low-sec.

Now, if it had been a flat-packed cruiser, even a Tech-III, that would have been dead easy; my alt's not part of any militia, so I could go to any station in a Viator and then bug out, using my main as a cloaky scout to provide a rough insta-warp point.  But of course, it couldn't be that easy.  No, the Eos is 15,000 cubic meters flat-packed, which meant it was time for another option.

I knew I'd had a reason to buy my alt a Mastodon.

Using the MWD-cloak trick, and a Buzzard scout, I brought the hauler in, jump by jump, until we were both in Nisuwa, one of the Gallente fortresses in Black Rise, probably with pirate presence on top of the Gallente patrols.  A neutral in a deep space transport would probably be considered a juicy target, especially with an Eos in the cargo hold worth over three hundred million ISK ... one which wasn't my property, that a friend was trusting me to bring safely out of hostile territory.

My hauler was ready to undock, ready to warp to my ad hoc warp-out point - the alt corp's never put together bookmarks in Nisuwa, and it's been hostile territory almost as far back as I can remember - and my main was camped outside, cloaked, far enough to provide a warp point but close enough to still be on-grid with the station.

Station clear, undock - wait!  Gallente warping back from out-system.  Cancel!  Stand by!

Station clear, undock - wait!  Pirates on the undock, looking for prey.  Dock up - hurry!

Station clear, undock - wait!  More Gallente, a gang this time.  Dock up!  Hurry!

Again, and again, I had to abort the undock, because I needed for the station to be clear before I risked undocking my friend's multi-hundred-million-ISK cargo.  Finally, I got a window where the undock was clear, and I managed to warp the Mastodon close by the Buzzard - but not too close, so I wouldn't decloak.  Then came the Mastodon's standard cloak, just in time as another scout dropped by, and then a waiting game until the grid was clear once more - had I scheduled this cargo run in the middle of a Gallente strategic op or something?

Finally, the grid was clear.  Finally, I could warp the Mastodon clear and get underway.  But because I wasn't in a covert-ops ship, every jump was a cue for the nerves to start again.  What if the next jump is camped?  Have I had enough practice with the MWD-cloak maneuver?  What if they've got more points than the Mastodon hull can overcome?

Out to Kedama, then dog-leg to Reitsato - Tama was the shorter route out of low, but it's also dog-eat-dog even at the best of times, and there was no way I was going to jump in wearing metaphorical Milk-Bone underwear - then the next nail-biter, Okkamon.  My corp and alliance had called Okkamon home, once upon a time, but then a couple of pirate gangs moved in, which as far as the militia was concerned, was the equivalent of a termite invasion, coupled with a fire ant swarm.  I'd already lost one Viator to the Okkamon pirates, and once I'd cleared Nisuwa, this was going to be the riskiest jump of the entire journey.

The route through Okkamon was clear.

I didn't waste a moment, posting the scout on the far side, warping the Mastodon gate-to-gate, and charging through.  Out of the frying-pan, out of the fire, welcome to Asakai - home of the legendary battle, still low-sec, but friendlier territory by a long chalk, a Caldari base, and only two jumps from safety.

Then came Ikoskio, one of the choke-points into the Black Rise war zone, but oddly, not routinely camped by the pirates for some reason.  Not like Kinakka or Akidagi, at any rate - not a place where you would routinely expect a kill-box on the low-sec side of the transit.  And not that it mattered, because even if there were gate-campers, the transit into high-sec was safer than the other direction - all you have to do to get to high is crash the gate and jump right out.  Even if there were smart-bombers on the gate, the Mastodon had a fair shield tank, enough to absorb a few bomb shockwaves before jumping.

There was no gate camp.

The Mastodon jumped into Samanuni ... and I was able to breathe again.  The job was done; my friend's ship was safe.

And as I docked up the Mastodon, I found myself hyperventilating, and praying I wouldn't have to do that again for a long time to come.

(There was one similar incident, last winter, when I felt a similar dread while flying a ship; again, it was because the ship didn't belong to me, but had been loaned by a friend.  I'd lost a ratting Apocalypse, and had been loaned a Navy Issue Apoc until the next corporate jump frieghter shipment arrived, but I only flew it once, and gave it right back.  Improved ISK efficiency wasn't worth the stress.)

3 comments:

  1. I agree - risking other people's property is a lot more stressful than risking your own.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah - the more I think about it, the more it seems to come down to trust. I was entrusted with that cargo, and trust is one of the few things in EVE that can't be replaced or replenished by ISK, or factored into a budget.

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