(Disclaimer: this has been written with people who haven't played EVE in mind. For vets it might be a bit explanative at times and probably a tad amateurish too. The player names are fictive).
Once upon a time in a virtual galaxy located in a London based server park everyone in our small corporation was a bit bored doing their own thing around our home turf near Dodixie, when our CEO suggested how it would be cool if we got together to do a specific plex in Otomainen, over in Caldari space. (Complexes are EVE's take on open world dungeons)
Supposedly it was just a medium difficulty level one and in safe high-security space but still very rewarding because it was situated behind Ihakana, a single low-sec system and passing through it happened to be the only way to reach Otomainen. Traveling through low-security systems in EVE means there's a much higher chance of being attacked by other players as the almighty Concord space police won't protect you there so CCP had adjusted the rewards for that plex accordingly.
But it was just a single low-sec system on our route anyway and our CEO told us appealing stories about guaranteed faction module drops. We all liked some of that pie. If not for using, then for selling.
We reckoned it would just come down to the right timing; bring a cloaked scout into Ihakana, wait for a moment without obvious evildoers in local channel and the gates being clear, jump in with our small gang and fleet warp it right on top of the exit gate. The only vulnerable moment would be the ten or so seconds it takes to get into warp with some of our battlecruisers and even slower battleships. But other than that? No big deal. We had roamed around in low-sec in our neck of the woods before and it was mostly pretty dead anyway.
As some in our gang were still very fresh EVE players, we weren't looking to find pvp encounters this time around and planned to avoid them when they were finding us instead. So the eight of us equipped our ships with typical pve load outs: active tanking modules, armor hardeners for the right types of npc damage and some remote repair mods to help eachother deal with the steady amount of relatively low dps from the npc ships in the complex.
I made my alt jump in his covert-ops frigate and sent him ahead to scout out our route. It was a pretty long haul of at least half an hour for the fastest ships and the gang including my main character in an Armageddon had already departed when my scout was still underway.
Anathema, cov-ops frigate
When I reached the final high security system before Ihakana everything looked fine. The gate was clear so I jumped through, cloaked up and moved away from the gate. I took a first look at the local channel and it didn't look good. Around ten players with a deep red security status in system and all from the same corp. In a well known pvp alliance too.
Before I had a chance to assess the situation or say "Hmm, ... guys?" over vent, hell broke loose all around me.
Right behind me a hauler had entered the system and as soon as he became visible a sizeable pirate gang warped right on top of him. It took only seconds for the poor oaf to be scrammed, jammed and ripped to shreds. The pilot's escape pod was popped soon after.
They were flying three battlecruisers; two Hurricanes and a Harbinger along with a Tengu and two other fairly small ships which I don't remember. The biggest of their bunch an Abaddon battleship.
A pirate hauler zoomed in, collected the loot and the gang warped off before the npc gate guns could do them any significant damage. It was all over and the gate clear maybe 20 seconds after it started. As if nothing had ever happened. They had even salvaged the wreck.
In the fifteen following minutes I witnessed the exact same scenario happen at the expense of five other players on their oblivious way through Ihakana: the toughest encounter a duo of two Raven battleships but even that didn't take them long. All engagements timed and executed to perfection. No escape possible. Warning their victims in private tells would have been completely in vain, I could only watch them die.
Their warp ins were so perfectly timed (and on multiple gates too), that they must have had covert scouts in all high-sec systems bordering Ihakana, sitting cloaked at the other side of the gates and warning them for incoming prey. Their kill crew poised at a safespot and able to warp in on their victims within seconds of the feeding buzzer sounding over voice coms. The fact that two of the gates were so close to eachother in this system made it even more convenient for them as it greatly reduced their time spent in warp.
This was like a gang of Somali pirates with an official buccaneering license for the Suez channel except they didn't even bother with ransoms; warp in, kill, loot, hurry back to get in position, warp in, kill, loot, ... rinse and repeat. A complete routine. Probably the station on scanner near the gates was theirs too. Giving them a place to run to when things would get too hot. These guys clearly had Ihakana on "farming status"
When I informed our gang who had already been traveling for a good while, the first reactions were glum. We reckoned they might be scared off by our group size but our load-outs were paper thin for pvp and most of us were pretty fresh in EVE. We considered just stocking up on warp core stabs and run past them like chickens but they'd probably still be able to pick off one or two of us.
Then my CEO suggested to stand up to them.
Some players objected very strongly to this. One of the more experienced of us, I'll call him Squik, had lost a few expensive ships in pvp the previous days and he was near bankruptcy. Losing his Typhoon now would probably make him rage quit right away.
I eventually sided with my CEO. The alternatives were all sucky: run like chickens loaded out with warp core stabs with only a glimmer of hope of everyone making it safely past them into Otomainen, or head back to Dodixie after wasting more than an hour preparing for this. Everyone finally agreed and we decided to pull through.
And so it began.
Within 10 minutes we had plundered the local high-sec markets and bought all remotely useful modules for pvp available. After a heated discussion we convinced our gloomy, unhappy Squik that he would make the best possible bait in his Typhoon as it can pack a surprisingly deep buffer tank despite it being a fairly lightweight battleship. Next to tons of plating we kitted him out with scramblers, webs and disruptors to prevent the attackers from getting away too fast once they realized there was a small relief fleet on its way. We essentially turned his Typhoon into a massive flying brick with a lot of hooks and barbs, and at the helm; one very unhappy Squik.
Finally we were all equipped with improvised pvp fits and undocked. Knowing they had eyes on the gate, my CEO warped everyone except Squik to a nearby moon. Once we were in position, we aligned ourselves to the gate and urged Squik to get moving. We knew this moment was critical: if their scout would use his ship's scanner now he'd probably notice a sudden concentration of ships in his end of the system. But Squik's imminent arrival on their doorstep would hopefully distract him soon enough.
This was also the moment when adrenaline started to kick in; my hands started to tremble slightly and my stomach tried to twist itself into a knot. Always happens at moments like that. The prospect of a near certain pvp encounter in EVE is as unsettling as it is exciting and addictive somehow. Probably because there's so much to lose and so much to gain but also because there's often so much preparation and intel gathering involved that there's this gradual building up of suspense that only surfaces when your nerves suddenly start malfunctioning.
But we didn't have much time for contemplating: as soon as we were aligned, Squik in his lone Typhoon warped from the station directly to the Ihakana gate. Landed on top of it, triggered all their alarm bells and without lingering much he blundered through.
I alt tabbed to my alt who was still sitting cloaked inside of Ihakana. And sure enough, their trap sprang into motion like a clockwork. As soon as Squik's phoon materialized the killing crew landed op top of him, a flaring disco of red names on my overview.
Squik's excited voice over vent: "They are here ... they are ALL here ..."
"They engaged! Come help me guys, QUICK!!!"
My CEO had already initiated our fleet warp. His voice too broken to mask his feint composure; "We are on our way, Squik ... Just hang in there ..."
The seconds pass by painstakingly slow while we are in warp. The audio of my other account leaving no mistake that there is a battle raging next door.
"I'M AT 60% ARMOR ALREADY, ... GUYS!!"
"On our way, Squik ..."
Warps at moments like that seem to last forever but finally we land on the gate.
Fumbling for the right click > jump through command on the gate. I'm nose breathing like a horny rhino now. The swooshsy sound of making the jump.
"Soon into hull ..." Hopelessness in his voice.
As soon as the system loads, I frantically click in space to start moving. Oh man, the overview is one big red mess. Targeting the top few names.
"Deringor in a Hurricane is primary! Deringor in a Hurricane is primary! Buggernaps in a Hurricane is secondary!" Crap, had been targeting some other guys. Targeting the canes now too.
Too far out of optimal! I tell myself to stop shaking. Breathe in, ... breathe out ...
Defying orders and unleashing my mega pulse lasers on the nearby Harbinger I had already locked. Beams of righteous light surge forth, tearing down his shields in a single volley.
BURNING ... LASERS ... IN YOUR ... FACE!!!
Somehow the moment when you start dishing out actual damage is a huge relief. And a Geddon equiped for dps in favorable conditions can really lay down some hurt on a battlecruiser.
Am I in optimal range? Close enough. Disruptor, ON, web, ON. The Harbinger is going down fast now with the help of some torpedoes from my CEO, who had also started to remote repair Squik with his other ship.
Harbinger IS down!
Switching to the primary cane while trying to get my Geddon's fat ass a little closer. Overloading its mods for a few seconds while blasting away. The first cane had already been receiving a pummeling from most of my corp mates and soon bites space dust.
"Primary is Buggernaps in a Hurricane, Secondary is Lara Manfield in an Abbadon".
The second Hurricane attempts to get some distance but all the webbing and scrambling makes sure he's going nowhere fast. Our combined dps rips him apart in moments. A surge of euphoria. Dear gods, this is working out!
"Primary is Lara Manfield in an Abbadon, secondary is Hermandez in a Tengu."
"Tengu is getting away, POINT the Tengu! Web the Tengu! Guys!"
Crap too late. Too far out already. The juicy Tengu got away. Unloading together on the Abaddon now. The only enemy ship left on the field. Working through its huge armor buffer takes some time but eventually the helpless beast collapses.
Abaddon, battle ship
We frantically start looting the wrecks and move back to the gate, huddling together near the emergency exit like a bunch of schoolboys who realize they just defied their sixth grade bullies.
Four kills, zero losses. Everything else managed to get away. The whole engagement lasted maybe 5 minutes but somehow you lose all sense of time.
In hindsight I was just managing one ship and had my hands full with that, my CEO was flying two at the same time, had barely saved Squik with remote repairs and had to give orders too, for him it must have been twice as hectic at least. The reason we didn't get the Tengu is because we were ordered to first take out as much enemy dps as possible to help save Squik which was a good call, but I think we could have easily performed better if we had spread out our warp disruption and webs a bit more.
From a grumpy bunch of corp mates going for a plex, we ended up outwitting a nest of pirates who had much older (and thus better skilled,) characters than our own. We turned their trap around, got kills and loot without any losses and felt damn good about ourselves. Especially when talking to some other neutral players who were using the opportunity to travel through the system safely; "Yeah, we just killed four of them right here, should be safe for a while. Have a good day, man.", "No really, don't thank us, ... it's what we do."
Everyone was exhilarated for the rest of the day. Especially Squik couldn't stop yapping and laughing over vent. I don't think we even bothered with the plex anymore. At least I don't remember we did.
TL:DR; A nooby highsec corp baits some pirates. Good times were had.
This was just a fairly amateurish, but for me very memorable example of how amazingly engaging games can be when players have the freedom to provide eachother with content and objectives which adds a huge sense of unpredictability to a game world.
Thank you for reading if you made it all the way here.