Campaign will commence in -4 days. The message flashed along the electronic display in front of me in a bright green glow. The new temporary office that we had rented for our upcoming jaunt into Gallente space had a distinct whiff of chemical cleaning solution that stung the back of the nostrils, it was clean, sure, but the whole place had an air of quirkiness about it. The place looked like it had been vacated in a hurry, on one side of the main room the chairs that were once bolted down to the floor were tipped over on their side and on one of the desks was a loaded laser pistol, buzzing with its charge.
An orange ambient light filled the main rooms, it was a soft welcoming light, not too dark, just about right. In sharp contrast, a blistering blue-white light over by the showering facilities and locker rooms pierced into the orange hue. Inside the locker rooms was a sense of calm, all the lockers had been emptied and their contents long gone, but for a lone combat helmet that lay toppled on its side on the floor. As I stood by the helmet I sensed the camaraderie that was no doubt once present; pilots and crew readying themselves for a patrol deep into enemy sectors, not knowing what waited ahead but bonded by the echoes of laughter and the spirit of togetherness. But for now it was almost silent, the ventilation system buzzing at a low hum.
Our campaign will stretch around the regions of Everyshore, Essence, Sinq Laison and Verge Vendor. There will be some roams into low-sec for the pilots who have a less than favourable relationship with the law but the main focus of this campaign will be the high-sec areas, wardecs, thefts, can-flipping and general mischief will be the order of the day. We don't expect super-efficiency but we do expect lots of fun and shenanigans.
The fitting of hundreds of cheap, mainly tech I Rifters and Destroyers was under way down in the hangar areas below our new office. The team of mechanics and fitting crews were cursing and sending back error reports at an alarming rate.
'Oh man, where did you get these 150mm cannons from again? The barrels look bent, hope you're not planning on shooting anything in a straight line'.
'The rocket launchers don't fit on these missile mounts'.
'We're having trouble linking these cannons to the targeting system Miura, it looks like they were wired up by an Amarrian'.
'These shield extenders keep fading out when we hit the power, where did you get these cheap Rifters from again?.
Looking down on the making of a fleet, 150 Rifters, soon to be ready for battle, last preparations and tests, it seemed eery knowing that in less than a week we'd be out in the space lanes hunting down our enemy. Knowing that these ships and some of their crew would be lost for ever in the black fog of space didn't faze us right now, it was a thought firmly in the back of our minds but we all knew the risks. Some of the pilots were making last minute arrangements for their own personal stockpile of ships and commodities to be delivered to the new staging system. A short briefing via comms link was playing in the background of the office, reminding pilots to update their medical insurance and clones.
Jet Kargan, a newer member with the Rebels was just docking up after testing out his latest Rifter fit against a new recruit who was sitting out his corp stasis. The friendly pre-arranged duel the perfect prep work for the coming months. The Rifter was smoking in the hangar, the station's extraction system getting to work and removing the toxic fumes to the black space outside as a repair drone magically plasma-stitched the armor plating back together.
The Black Rebels are growing in strength and will soon be touching 20 members, the roster of names in front of me a healthy mix of some experienced and some keen, younger pilots. The next few months of combat will be the making of this band of pilots; there will be good fights, ganks, losses, dirty dealings and poddings, loss of wealth and rich pickings. We will fight bravely for the badge which we wear with pride on our Black Jackets, we will in turn become a special group of fighters, form a bond that only exists from the stress of combat, we will share our knowledge and help each other and offer support when the chips are down and we will rejoice together through the good times.
Then we'll move on, we'll clear out our lockers and start the next adventure, and before I turn off the lights I'll toss down my flight helmet onto the floor and chuck my pistol onto my desk.
Roll 'em boys.