I've been very stupid.
But before I explain exactly how, I feel I need to set the scene. So if you're not in the mood for pre-amble, well...apologies, but I'm not very good at brevity. I'll stick a TL;DR marker further down for those in a rush.
For some weeks I've been three-quarters of the way through the Guristas Epic Mission Arc out in hostile nullsec space, failing to make progress having clone-jumped away before completion. It was one of those things that I kept intending to get back to, but until today I'd never found the time. I was keen to finish the arc as I wanted get my hands on the delicious Gila blueprint reward and free up that clone for future Copernicus Coalition duties.
So into my nullspace clone I jumped, intending to finish the epic arc quickly, as the training time lost in an implant-free clone wrankles me. The S.S.S. Excremento 4, a Caldari Crow Interceptor frigate was waiting for me, fitted and ready to go. As I moved about in 0.0 space, I re-engaged my ultra-paranoid brain and made copious use of the directional scanner and celestial bodies in an effort to be as unpredictable and elusive as possible. Fortunately it was relatively quiet as I'd chosen to finish the arc whilst the server population was at a low ebb.
I progressed through the missions without a hitch; orbit targets at 30km travelling at 4,500+ m/s, annihilate with missiles. Repeat. The missions themselves are easy enough, it's the to-ing and fro-ing between systems that's the real hazard. You'd have to be a real idiot to lose your ship during a mission. Ahem.
Finally, deep into the twisting storyline, I learn that in the Guristas if you're not stabbing someone in the back you're doing it wrong, as I'm manipulated into a final betrayal in the last mission - Spy Games. With my heart firmly focused on that Gila blueprint, I kill the Caldari Navy double agent, nick his ID that allows me to progress by masquerading as the double agent. I sneak past an idling Caldari Navy fleet, through a further gate and on into the final zone.
After raining destruction down on the two squadrons of frigates guarding a forcefield-protected bunker, I focus fire on the shield then the bunker itself. Within the bunker lies the object that will finally bring about the completion of this mission arc. However, as the bunker explodes, it triggers the appearance of at least forty more frigates and cruisers. Deciding to play it safe in my paper-thin interceptor, I maintain a safe orbit of 40km from the mission container and begin the slow process of whittling down the enemy fleet.
TL;DR fans start here. And, finally to my moment of absolute stupidy.
You see, the thing is with orbits is they're circular. So when an interceptor orbits an object, it's pretty much a guarantee that that object will stay the appropriate distance away. The same can't be said for everything that you're not orbiting. The Law of Murphy saw my ship choose an orbital path leading straight through the middle of a swarm of forty-odd angry frigates and cruisers. So before I could frantically click away from the fleet, S.S.S. Excremento 4 became space excrement.
I was left floating in my pod, frustrated with the momentary complacency that had led to me helplessly looking at the container that was the key to my Gila blueprint acquisition. I knew I could not pick it up in my capsule and worse, the item that would provide any future access to this area was laying, unobtainable, in the wreckage beside me. As soon as I warped away I would never be able to return and that blueprint would slip through my fingers. With a heavy heart, warp away I did.
I've yet to figure out if there's any science to where on the three-dimensional plane a ship chooses to orbit and I know I should have paid more attention to the path it did choose. Is there any way to predict this?
I'm vaguely hoping that the mission will reset after downtime, but the ominous presence of an 'objective completed' message in the journal suggests otherwise. I suppose I could petition for a reset, but I'm not sure if my reason is valid.
After all, it was a PEBCAK problem.
Farewell Gila blueprint. So close I could almost touch it. Gutted.
08/07/10 22:33 Update. Petitioned following advice that it may yield results.