Jiorj scrambled the crew to the hanger desk and selected only a skeleton crew for the OUCH mission. “We are going into lowsec as a scout for the fleet. Scouts are . . . a high risk as we will be often on the outskirts and the first hint of something going wrong. We are the canary in the coal mine. So I want men and women who know the risks up front. If you are not willing to go today you will still be on my rosters, no shame, no recriminations. Oh, and this does count as hazardous duty, whether we see action or not, pay will be modified accordingly.”
They loaded up and transfered to the rally point where they switched to a new smaller ship, a Rifter. ‘I didn’t know we could shoot those . . . ” One of the weapons bay techs muttered as light missiles were transfered aboard.
“Not sure we can.” The other replied as they saw that the ‘LOAD’ light was not on.” (It was partway into the mission when the light did flicker then glow and they sighed knowing they could now shoot all weapons if push came to shove.)
They launched and were surrounded by other vessels, big and small, all glowing on the hud with the soft purple of fleet. The Rifter lept forward and raced about the near space first orbitting one then another ship as Jiorj got the feel for the small nimble vessel. Black Claw called for the chatter to stop and then began identifyine what ships he had to work with. Ships that could cloak were given systems to scout and sit in and were sent off. Bombers and probers vanished from the crowd around the station and then Black turned his attention to the smaller ships. Each was givena system to go to and they all warped off starting at the same gate but then spreading out to cover the systems along a general path and all the adjacent ones.
Jiorj called up a map and looked to see where ships were being assigned. Operational security meant that nobody was asking (or being told) where the station was going to be raised. But the maps showed the flow of the fleet into lowsec had a direction, a form, and a purpose. He didn’t know the exact system they were going to end in but he could see a direction from the fleet chatter and assignments. He was assigned to a chokepoint system beyond which no other ships were sent so he knew he was not on the main path but guarding the flanks. He listened as general orders were issued for the outriders to make safe spots and hold positions 200 km off of the gates.
With the latest technologies, Jiorj knew, safe spots were almost misnamed. But they were easy enough to make and he swiftly dropped three in system before returning to position off of the gate and watched, listening to the rest of fleet chatter. A gate camp was set along the first choice of paths but Black had alternative routes and the fleet confirmed that it was safer and proceeded. The POS was loaded and once the path had been confirmed the escorts ran out ahead, cloaked, and one watched the back door as the outriders continually updated Black as to traffic and populations on the side paths. The industrial carrying the large station slowly moved through the systems and settle, the construction began while all the guards watched and waited. When it was up a cheer went through the channels and the decision was made to continue the operation and make the station ‘fully operational’. Launchers and bays were loaded into the cargo vessel, the pilot Voltron, fretted, knowing that a mistake now could cost in excess of half a billion isk. The outriders were brought together as a fast response guard force and shadowed the load from the base to the station. It took long hours of stress and constant vigilance . . . this was not mining.
The fleet was amused when one ‘orange’ they were watching passed the ghost watchers in a Drake and returned a while later in his Pod. A few enemies who listed as ‘Red’ were seen here and there but they probably never had a clue as to the value of targest that smoothly went past them, an empress with her palace guards. Each step the ships moved a Black ordered, each in formation and reporting on the occupants of systems. They were his eyes and ears, his fingers across a dozen systems.
The station was built and armed, the ships returned to the rally point and then dispersed with a heartfelt thanks from their fleet commander. Back on the hanger deck the day ended where it had begun. Jiorj thanked his crew and assured them that they would be paid the full bonus in spite of the fact that not a single shot had been fired. He then returned to his studies as he continued to try to become a more usefull member of the OUCH team.
If the way is clear, you go for it. Strike with the whole set up if you think you can do it in one op.
Just because nothing happens does not mean we were bored. Watching and counting and scanning is a function of fleet as well
Use multiple channels so the chatter does not fill the operational commands, split the local off to the side so it is ALWAYS visible.
The more operational security you have, the less chance of a surprise ambush courtesy of some spy within the ranks.
If it is a one station system then lining the ‘guests’ up with local will let you see how many are out in space and how many are sleeping it off.