Getting closer to combat

5th November 2008 – 9.08 am

I pop in to New Eden to run a mission or two with my low-standing agent, hoping to boost my standings and wallet a bit so I can find a better quality agent and fund my inevitable loss of ships and equipment when I start engaging in PvP combat. My new corporation welcomes me when I arrive and asks if I have time to get involved with some low-sec hunting. I wasn't expecting to do anything more than mission running but the opportunity to see some action was appealing, so I am happy to say that I have enough time to get in to a skirmish.

Friend Bear, my disruption frigate, is left in the hangar in favour of my Blackbird, christened Bedtime Bear, for its ECM capabilities. All I had done with the Blackbird so far was buy and equip it, breaking in the engines on simple flights to pick up a module here and there. Once back in my current base the Blackbird's fittings were completed and I let her sit, ready to be called on for service. It is quite exciting to request undocking permission encapsulated in the pod of the Blackbird, taking it out on its maiden voyage with almost a promise of becoming embroiled in a life-or-death battle.

A few short hops later, and one awfully long warp, and I'm in low-sec and using the tips picked up on how to fly through low-sec safely, as well as the safe spots I've set-up previously, to hook up with the small corporation fleet. My journey is hastened by intelligence from the fleet about the safety of the systems I have to pass through, enabling me to fly almost directly to them with no trouble.

The fleet is already on the trail of a few ships and is pinning them down to a system and location. As they move they offer advice on how best to use an ECM boat. Cycle through the hostile targets and jam their targeting systems, whilst I stay at maximum range of my systems and always remain aligned with a celestial body so that if I am targeted I can warp out quickly before heading right back in again. I may be a low-priority threat but I am also an easy kill and I need to be cautious of this.

I am in the system with the fleet and am to warp in to them at my optimal range, to keep as much out of harm's way as possible whilst being ready to engage our targets immediately. My warp drive activates and I am flung through space at several AUs per second, feeling anxious about my first live combat. I flick on the tactical overlay and pull my virtual view back enough to show me the entire battlefield when I drop out of warp. I'm ready.

The warp engines start to deactivate and several ships zoom in to view as I decelerate heavily out of warp. There is one hostile ship on my overview! I start to acquire a lock on him, almost instinctively, but I seem to have appeared on the opposite extreme of the battlefield to him as he is out of range of my systems. It doesn't matter, though, as a few moments later his ship speeds out of the area, obviously in warp. I now have time to scan the rest of the battlefield more thoroughly and notice two wrecks. They are yellow on my screen which means they don't belong to us: two kills!

The rest of the time is spent waiting for the cool-down timers to expire, before divvying up the loot with the other corporation that was involved and making our way safely back to high-sec space. I still haven't seen any live combat, but I am getting closer all the time. The good part is that I am getting experience of entering and piloting through low-sec so that I won't be worrying about this when I finally get in to a battle, instead being able to concentrate on my role in the fight.

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