Not more than a week had elapsed since the Amarrian Diplomats had sought assistance from the Senior ranks within Agony, and the mood and morale was at a high.
Logistics to “The Bleak Lands” were now well under way, and the majority of Alpha Squadron were on R&R in Stacmon catching up on sleep / alcohol / & quafe. A few of the more wealthy Senior Officers were even able to afford a planetside trip to see families and loved ones whilst the urgent repairs were being undertaken to the fleet at our new operational base in Kamela.
Keacte was broke this time round, so Stacmon was his home for the next few days. He had seen his wife a few months before, but missed her dearly. On the plus side, Stacmon was normally always quite entertaining for a week – there are many Oxygen Bars, and pubs and music halls, so he was looking forward to a few good nights out. But this time round, it seemed much busier than usual.
New Eden was full of opportunities, and the industrial economic growth that had happened over the last few years was filtering through into all the heavy industries. However the overall benefits of this growth were not being distributed evenly through New Eden, and in time, it was obvious that this current rate of growth would compromise future generations. Traders were getting more for less, industrialists were getting more for less, with the average person paying more for commodities, but getting less. It was a timebomb.
Because of this, the routes around Reblier and MHC through to Stacmon, were now riddled with Pirates preying on unsuspecting industrialists. They frequented the bars in Stacmon of an evening, and thier mere presence in public amongst the very people they prey on annoyed Keacte. He really didn’t understand Pirates – he didn’t like their arrogance nor their brashness – he knew of there impact first hand – he knew one family who were financial crippled and now homeless, because of one ransoming – the very thought that the pirate who caused so much heartache could be sat in the same room sharing a drink with Keacte made him feel very uncomfortable.
Keacte woke up and packed his flightcase, and jumped in the lift down to Sector F, and grabbed a ride from Stacmon to Kamela with Miss Granger. She was a young but wise pilot. They had flown together since before Keacte had joined Agony, in his previous corporation “Ghost in the Machine” (-GIM-), and he had much time for her. He was glad of the company after the debauchery of Stacmon. They chatted about everything, and after what only seemed a few minutes, they had arrived in Amarr for the debriefing. As Granger adeptly navigated into the Amarr Station Facility, she followed the overhead sign-prompts to the debrief facility, joking as she disengaged the ignition chip, “Lets hope this debrief is better than the last debrief I had…!!” – Keacte saw the intended double-entendre and chuckled, as Granger flicked a glance over and winked at Keacte – she was a good girl, with a great sense of humour.
As they entered the Debrief facility, Keacte picked up a few of the usual freebies on offer, primarily chewing gum and rolling tobacco. It was all cheap and nasty, but he knew exactly what the next week would entail so it was perfect ‘entertainment’ for him.
He sat down amongst the ‘usual suspects’ and pulled out his pen and and notepad – Dibbles, Temprial, Granger, & Yamir were all sat adjacent to Keacte, and they made light chit-chat all seeming in good spirits. It was good to see them all again – it had only been a week; but in space, a week seems like an eternity. Dibbles was his usual bleary-eyed self after a week in Stacmon, he’d obviously spent the week in a smoke filled bar with his Infantry friends who were on leave also; Temprial had enjoyed some time planetside with her family; and Yamir – well, Yamir was just Yamir really – ever the optimist, and perversely cheerful even with a debrief pending.
The lights dimmed and the Amarrian Protection and Enforcement Diplomat waited for attention, Keacte muttered “Ladies…Eyes down for a full house…!” and Dibbles laughed inwardly muttering “Bingo..!!”. Eventually a silence descended across the room which lasted for the duration of the briefing.
The next hour and a half or so was a bit of a blur; Keacte had sat through many presentations like this, granted never this high-profile, but they were all the same. This one was no different, albeit, the impact potentially more significant to the Amarrian Empire – but it could be summarised in the following way – gather intel, & be combat ready – end of story.
Basically the Amarr Empire wanted intel about the movement of the Minmatar Militia, and wanted Agony Unleashed to help defend the Amarr Empire against the impending Minmatar Militia infiltration, with combat and recon deployment “until further notice”. Three words that Keacte really didn’t like. Ambiguous; uninformative; open; and worst of all – vague. If you give people a psychological reference point, it gives them hope – and hope is a rare thing in New Eden.
Glepp and Loon dismissed the Squadrons present, and Keacte slowly rose from his seat and went to freshen up.
Keacte washed his hands and face at the sink and with both hands aside the sink, leant staring deep into the mirror. He sighed, and took a deep breath, looked up and flicked his damp hair aside, pulling the chain from the sink, and grabbed at the towels to dry his hands and slowly sauntered out – the next week was going to be difficult.
Deep. Space. Recon – or DSR as Keacte preferred to call it – was a pain. 24 hour recon/intel shifts followed 6 hours rest. 24 hours on, 6 hours off, 24 hours on, 6 hours off – rinse and repeat that for a week, and you don’t know who you are, where you are, or why you are. You don’t dock, you remain in space in an observational capacity when on shift, when not on shift you sleep in your cramped ship quarters; you can’t breath fresh air, only recleansed week-old stale cockpit air; you don’t eat proper food, just boil-in-the-bag freeze-dried meals; it’s cold, because you are motionless for a week and solarthermal cooling kicks in; and worst of all, you can’t even have a good shit. Keacte usually enjoyed the first few hours of any DSR placement, as he could listen to some new music, and chat to his friends on comms, but the novelty soon wore off, roughly coinciding with the muscle fatigue and wastage. Your ship is your home, and Keactes home for the next week was his trusty Cheetah; combat probe fit and ready to tackle – a small, nimble, Minmatar rust-bucket – it still had the off-side drone damage from the XS-XAY (Syndicate) Covops drop he had provided to Glepp and his defence fleet a few months before when they massacred a lone Hurricane camping the bubble on the 35-RK9 gate.
The importance of DSR is often misunderstood and miscalculated. When you relocate to a new area of New Eden, you need to understand where you have moved to – the local supply chains, where people fly to and from, who they fly with, do they fly escorted, in order to fully understand where threats could exist to the local Amarr population. Every pilot will undertake a period of DSR, but DSR on this scale was unheard of – there were around 20 DSR pilots gathering intel, monitoring movements, pilot interactions, and with a team of station-based analysts monitoring all market transactions we would very soon know who the Minmatar Militia were and neutralise there threat to the Amarr Empire pilots.
Keacte awoke on the first morning of DSR, music loaded up, cigarettes in pocket, chewing gum at the ready, and spent the next week cloaked at the Kamela / Kourmonen gate and station.
The time went slowly.
Minutes slowly drifted into hours, and hours eventually into days.
Keacte thought of his family a lot during this time alone, and he missed his wife more than ever this week and regretted not spending the money to go planetside to visit during the previous week. It’s during the quieter DSR moments that you are able look at your life and where its going. Nearly 3 years into his career in space, he was content with where he had ascended to, but sadly missed his life planetside, and his family and friends.
After a week of borderline malnourishment, and sleep deprivation, Keacte eventually dropped cloak and powered into the Kamela Station docking at Sector D with his fellow DSR pilots. He powered down the Cheetahs inertia system, and pulled the ignition chip from the recess. Rising slowly from the cockpit seat, Keacte walked along the corridor, eventually reaching the blast door. He turned and pulled the release mechanism, as the air rushed in. He downed the stairs from the flight deck feeling week, and headed straight to the debrief facility to provide his DSR documentation to Glepp, the Amarrian Protection and Enforcement Diplomat, and the Agony Senior Combat Exec.
The first observation that Keacte made was that Kamela and the surrounding areas were busy with non-hostile pilots, but hostile Minmatar Militia pilots were, often seen patrolling adjacent systems looking for fights, and as such combat opportunites were rife; in fact it was a completely different beast to their last combat posting in Syndicate.
With all the DSR having taken place, the Station-based combat analysts and War Council now had the information to compile the information into a combat defence / offence plan.
The key systems to hold and protect were identifed as Kamela, Kourmonen and Huola; with Kourmonen identifed as being the primary combat system. The plan for “The Battle for Kourmonen” began.