Being a mercenary is... interesting. You come to rely on your corpmates and your corporation to survive because chances are almost everyone who knows who and what you are will avoid you. Sometimes, this is great because a system will clear out the moment you show up. Sometimes, this is bad because it's like wearing a black hat in a western movie: eventually more guys with black hats or a couple of white hats with stars on their vests show up and run you out of town, with or without your ship and/or pod. Its a good group and I like the guys there, but I'm beginning to question a few things.
Firstly, they repute themselves as hardened mercs and some of the best fighters in EVE. To be fair, they have a really nice kill per death ratio as per their killboard stats. Thing is, there's a slight... disconnect. In the academy, there's a lot of room to screw up in. You're new to the lifestyle or even to EVE itself, so that's understandable in a lot of ways. You're learning to follow the FC's orders, you're learning to understand the cues and nuances of operating as a unit. Thing is, the Academy tends to run joint operations, ops for short, with their big brother/sister alliance, Mercenary Coalition.
If the Mercenary Academy can be compared to college football, the Coalition is the NFL. These guys are the true mercs and everyone in the Academy is training and aspiring to be handpicked by the folks in the Coalition. They're an alliance of lethal fighters and die-hard mercenaries that are very well known for their adherence to the tenets of their contract and their lack of hesitation and remorse for killing whoever they're paid to kill.
Thing is, they fight one way and that way has zero room for error. Mix in the college football kids and you have a somewhat... Well, not outright hostile environment as the Coalition guys are fairly friendly, but its definitely daunting. Intimidating, almost, and certainly extremely frustrating.
I ran on an op with the Coalition with some Academy folks in tow. There were about 20-30 of us in a fleet of frigates and a few destroyers. The thing started out okay, we knew the rules. The Fleet Commander, or FC, stated that as a sizable chunk of pilots were Academy folks, they were to follow his orders to the letter. No big deal, right? Well, it would be, but the FC kept getting destinations wrong.
He'd give the order to warp to, say, the jump gate going to HJ-1T4 which is an easy enough thing to do. You find the appropriate jump gate in your overview/HUD, click on it, and hit the 'warp to' button. Problem is, oftentimes there was no HJ-1T4 gate which meant you're spending a half minute or two trying to figure out where everyone is supposed to go. It's like... 30 seconds at most, which doesn't sound so bad overall, especially when there's no one around. Thing is, when the fecal material hits the rotary air impeller, that 30 seconds can mean life, death, and op failure or success.
We did okay, managed to get a kill during the operation which was nice. We even managed to snag the guy's pod and blow that up, too. It was okay, not great, but okay. It was 20+ guys ganging up on one cruiser which isn't uncommon, if not one of the most common things to see, but I'm used to running maybe a dozen people in a fleet and going up against roughly the same number rather than just ganging up on one poor schmuck. But, this is the mercenary life and I had to understand that, so I said nothing and opened fire with the rest. That's what we do, right? Kill and get paid for it. Its a mentality change and one I felt I could do, albeit uncomfortably so. I figured that would change in time.
Later on, we were the ones who got jumped. The FC had us on a jump gate and deliberately took the bait as a ship that normally could warp away hung back. It was a trap and we all knew it, but we felt we could take whatever they dropped on us. Thing was, as we took the bait, the trap snapped shut and we realized we were not only outnumbered 2:1, but that we were vastly outclassed in ships. The FC ordered the fleet to warp to a gate, we'll make one up for ease of use. He orded us to warp to, say, jump gate BR-55L to avoid the fleet that dropped on us. Thing was, there was no BR-55L gate. The fleet hesitated and by the time someone told him his mistake and he corrected it, 10-15 seconds had passed where the fleet froze.
The caught me on the gate before I could warp out because the fleet froze and blew up my ship and pod. Wound up back in high security space and thought a moment, deciding to call it a night half because I wasn't really happy with how the fleet had been handled and half because it was actually fairly late and I was tired from working all day. Woke up the next day and figured I'd talk to the FC and see why he was making consistent mistakes and give a bit of feedback for constructive criticism purposes. The response I got was that, yes, he did mess up the occasional gate name, but that my loss was my fault because I didn't get out on my own and react fast enough. Took that response and mulled it over a bit.
I didn't care that I lost a ship. I'm used to losing ships, it happens in PvP. My issue was that the FC, to some extent, deemed himself infallible when it came to the losses on his fleet. He felt that even in MA I should know the Coalition's protocols and that my losing the ship was entirely my fault, even going as far to hint that if I couldn't refrain from losing ships that that might become a problem when it came to applying the Coalition. I figured that maybe the FC was new-ish or that this was a sort of 'problem child' in the Coalition. Asked around and found out that, no, he wasn't atypical of the coalition. He was one of their best FCs and that if I lost a ship, it was my fault and not the FCs.
Not sure how I feel about that whole thing. Yeah, I lost a ship because I froze, but so did the fleet. The same FC that told us to follow only his orders and to follow those orders to the letter now blamed the loss on my inability to react on my own, without orders. Damned if I do and damned if I don't kind of situation.
I figure that I'll stick around and see how things go because there's a lot to learn and that the MA FCs are more lenient and their fleets are more fun, usually. But, we'll see how it goes. It's only the first issue I've had with the groups, so it might be better as time goes on, but for some reason I can't quite get the taste of the whole thing out of my mouth. We'll see what happens and I guess I'll link the kills and losses in question down at the end of this entry.
Anyways, on to other things. Happened to reconnect with a group that I used to roll with back in the day. Not sure if I mentioned them recently, but they're the same group that we left hi-sec/low-sec to go live out in Null-sec with. They're good folks and solid people, though they are technically care-bears, or Null-bears as they're usually called. I figured I had a foot in mercenary stuff and had an industry character to utilize, so I hit them up.
It took them a second to remember who I was, but as soon as they did they damn near rolled out the red carpet. They were a bit leery that I was involved in mercenary work, but relaxed when I explained why and that I had already explained to the MA that if deployed to the area that my friends were living that I'd decline the deployment opportunity and forfeit the pay if such a situation arose.
There were a few formalities and a short application process, but all in all it was painless. Soon after issuing all the paperwork I was offered a position in the corporation and signed on to go live out in null once more. So far, so good.
Thing was, last time I went out to null and moved there I used a wormhole which shorted the trip considerably and made it fairly safe. This time, there wasn't a wormhole in sight. So, instead of taking a bunch of materials down to the area hauled by a proper ship, my options were risk the ship I was taking through over two dozen jumps or snag an interceptor and minimize the risk entirely. The choice was clear as crystal to me.
After showing up in almost a half hour to an hour of travel, I waved to my new corpmates and parked my interceptor in the station. I brought nothing with me aside from the ship and what fittings were on the thing which made travel safe and quick, though showing up in the wild west with pocket change isn't exactly the best idea. So, after setting up a jump clone in two areas down in the wild west, I jumped back out to my hi-sec home: Gamis.
And now comes the hard part: the quest for more money.
Mining barges don't grow on trees, y'know.
Ship Kill
Pod Kill
Ship Loss
Pod Loss