Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kill #5: Frigate miner

Still adrenaline-charged from my last kill, I resumed my roaming and came to Costolle. I scanned down an Imicus-class frigate in an asteroid belt, and made quick work of him.

Looking over the CONCORD report of the incident, I noticed that he was a very young pilot, and had fit nothing but mining tools. Feeling a twang of guilt, I opened a channel to him and told him I'd leave him his wreckage. I even transferred him the minimal cost of a new Imicus. Hopefully he'll avoid low-sec until he's better prepared in the future...

Kill #4: The first interceptor

I’ve been re-evaluating some of my habits lately. I no longer stay away from drone ships. And just recently, I decided to break my fear of Interceptors. I was jumping through Agoze when I noticed a Taranis-class interceptor, the Uncredible Hulk, on my scanner. My instinct was to move on and look for other targets.. so I did. I jumped into Intaki. Running through my usual spots for scanning the system, I noticed the Uncredible Hulk on scan once more. I warp into a planetary orbit that’s closer to where he is, to try to further scan down his location.. and he’s in the same planetary orbit, 140km from me.

Starting out a fight with an interceptor from 140km gives me a bad feeling. The Taranis is known for being a short-range interceptor, but I’m betting the ship tops out somewhere in the 5-6 km/s range. Even with an advanced microwarp drive attached, the Heritage Two barely pushes 2-3 km/s. Impressive against larger ships, but nothing to an interceptor. Before the Taranis decides his own course of action, I re-align to another planet and warp out.

The instant I drop out of warp, I swing my ship around for a return trip. This time I’ve set the warp destination to land on top of the Taranis. A few seconds of spatial distortion and… nothing. The Taranis was gone, but I had a hunch. I powered on my warp scrambling batteries and my rocket bays, and waited.

It wasn’t long before the Taranis returned, warping in only 4 klicks from my position. My powered-on systems spun up instantly after my targeting computer gained a lock-on, and my stasis web cut his speed shortly after. I found myself committed to a situation I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in – his high-tech blasters were the most devastating frigate weapon systems, and his two high-tech Hobgoblin II drones were chewing away at me. But my advantage is my Khanid armor. The interceptor is fragile, and every salvo of Phalanx Rockets I fire makes a noticeable difference.

The Taranis is into structure, and my armor is holding when I hear the report from the ship’s computer - “The capacitor is empty.” My armor repairer gives out, and the Taranis’ blasters begin cutting into my structure. I freeze as I watch the warning lights report my imminent destruction, when my view lights up with the interceptor’s explosion. My structure was at 30% integrity and flames were pouring out of my hull. I quickly moved to scoop up the loot from my opponent, and warped off to find a safe location while my crew worked on temporary repairs.

I exchanged adrenaline-filled comments with the Taranis’ pilot over the local comms, saluting each other’s fighting ability. The Taranis is considered the most deadly of the close-range interceptors, and I had taken one down. I’m really beginning to like the Heritage Two.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A tale of two Myrmidons

The black-hulled Heritage Two sat in my Oursulaert hangar, and the ISK Guillome had so recently transferred me was no longer in my account. I made sure everything was in order and undocked at twice the throttle as was allowed by the station crews. I was determined to get back to Intaki before the Myrmidon pilot left.

It seemed there was to be no luck. I returned to the system and the pilot was no longer registered on the local comms channel. But before the gate-induced cloaking field dissipated, his callsign appeared on my HUD. He had returned. The Myrmidon decloaked not ten klicks away, having even jumped through the same gate. I watched as he warped off towards a nearby asteroid belt, and as soon as he was gone, I punched in a course to follow him.

I arrived almost on top of him, and tried to think about what I had gone over in my head a thousand times. Turns out, it's a lot harder in the heat of battle with all the adrenaline in your system. Still, I managed to get it right: scramble his engines, kick on the microwarp drive, set the furthest orbit I could without losing the scrambler's lock, and then stop thinking about the Myrmidon. I began targeting his drones and loosing salvo after salvo of rockets into them. The high-tech drones stood up to the barrage better than their lower-tech cousins, but they still took heavy damage.

I had managed to take out three of his drones before I brought my attention back to my own ship. My amazing Khanid-made armor had repelled the drones well, but I was already taking structure damage. I gave the command to warp out, and managed to get away with 80% structural integrity left. Looking over the list of pilots currently registered on the local comms channel, I was satisfied that none would be too quick to scan down my location, so I set the ship to planetary orbit, and gave the command for all hands to focus on getting the Heritage Two repaired as soon as possible. Given her advanced armor systems, the armor was restored in short order.

I exchanged friendly words with the Myrmidon pilot, and he noted that my second attack had gone much better than my first. I thanked the pilot for a good fight, and told him I wouldn't harass him a third time that evening. I later regretted saying that, knowing I had worked through some of his drones, but I was true to my word; I may be a bandit, but I'm no liar. After waiting out the requisite time for my criminal actions to fade from high-alert status, I returned to a station in the system for some brief downtime.

I later took the Heritage Two over towards one of my favorite hunting grounds, Oueletta, which is usually a pretty crowded system. There seemed to be only a few pilots on the local comms this night, though. I began my usual run-down, scanning the system for potential targets. I get only one result: A Myrmidon. This Myrmidon also was only a few months out of the academy, so I decided to push my luck.

I warped in fairly far off from the Myrmidon's location - probably about 30 klicks. I held off from targeting him as to not alert him to my intentions until I was within fifteen. Once I had him warp-scrambled, I locked his Hammerhead drones and began working my way through them. Not being high-tech drones, I made pretty short work of them and turned my attention back to the battlecruiser. Salvo after salvo of Gremlin rockets slammed into his shields, but he had a shield recharger working in concert with the Myrmidon's already impressive defensive systems. I managed to work through his shields after nearly fifteen minutes, and he hailed me over the local comms. "Seems like this could go on forever."

I offered to leave him alone for the price of my ship. He replied with boasts that his ship was such a tank, that I'd run out of ammo before I could damage him. I told him I agreed, but pointed out that I still had him warp-scrambled, and was in no danger of running down my capacitor. He made numerous threats about what would happen once his alliance arrived. I, on the other hand, was asking for help on what few comms channels I know where I can find other pirates. Sadly, none were nearby.

What finally broke up the encounter was the arrival of a Rupture-class cruiser, flashing red in my overview. A quick database lookup showed that this was the very same pilot that destroyed the Heritage One. I debated briefly if I should convince him to help me because of his outlaw status, but thought better of it and left. The Rupture pilot later hailed me and invited me into a group to try trapping the Myrmidon. For all his boasting, however, the Myrmidon pilot decoded against taking my bait.

Lessons learned - take more firepower when trying to take down such a tough target.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Loss #8: The Myrmidon

An icon flashed on my HUD, indicating a change in my financial accounts. Looks like Guillome had finally sold some of my loot and paid me. It was about time. In the mean time, I had bought another Rifter, the Restock Four, and gone out hunting with it. By the time he had made the deposit, I was jumping into the Intaki system.

There were two targets on the system scanner in Intaki. A Hulk-class Exhumer mining barge, and a Myrmidon-class Battlecruiser. Looking up the records on the pilots in local, I found the Myrmidon pilot to be 3 months out of the academy, and the other to be much older. But being in a frigate, there was no way I was going to take on a drone-carrying battlecruiser. I have this thing about drones. I don’t like them when they’re pointed at me.

I followed the Hulk pilot around for a while. He was strangely moving frequently from belt to belt, instead of mining in one spot. Then something caught my eye on the scanner.. he had high-tech drones with him. There’s that thing about drones again. I sat in planetary orbit, pondering my next move, when the Myrmidon warped into the same asteroid belt where I had scanned down the Hulk, and they began communicating over the local comms channel. The Myrmidon pilot mentioned that he was hunting Serpentis and salvaging their wrecks. It was just the intel I needed – he wouldn’t be outfitted for fighting capsuleers. But would it be possible to solo a battlecruiser in a frigate? I had serious doubts. It’s times like these that I envy other pirates, who can call for backup from their corpmates.

After some encouragement from Hallan Turrek over the Hellcats public comms channel, I launched my Rifter into warp towards the belt. I managed to just catch the Myrmidon after he had dispatched the local Serpentis fighters. I had him targeted and scrambled almost instantly, and began to orbit the battlecruiser at the extent of my range with my microwarp drive in an attempt to avoid whatever drones he might launch. My gut knotted as I saw five high-tech Hammerhead II medium drones spew from his drone bay. Despite his young age, he was able to field very powerful drones. I almost managed to destroy one of them before they tore my Rifter to shreds.

I escaped with my capsule intact, and exchanged friendly words with the pilot. He offered to leave my wreck for me to salvage, but I was already on my way to Oursulaert to spend those new-found credits on another Vengeance…

Friday, October 10, 2008

Loss #7: Setting a trap

“You aren’t seriously thinking of buying another one, are you, sir?” I could feel the muscles in my face tighten. I hate it when machines talked back. If I could afford an actual human secretary, that would be one thing. But an AI assistant program should know its damned place. “I am. We didn’t get the right kind of test out of the first one. Now run the damned numbers.”

As it turns out, I had splurged a bit and purchased a Vengeance-class Assault Frigate. Fully fitted, it had cost as much as five fully-fitted Rifters. Some of that had been offset by finding the un-looted wreck of a Stealth Bomber, with its high-tech cloaking device still intact. Or at least it would be, once Guillome paid me for it.

I dubbed the ship the Heritage One, since it was a ship of Khanid design. Taking it roaming through all my usual systems, I wound up in Old Man Star, but there I found nothing but a Rupture-class cruiser and a Rapier-class Force Recon cruiser. I sat outside one of the stations in that system for a while, pondering my next move and hitting my scanner from time to time.

It hadn’t been long, when the Rupture warped in close to me, and his icon on my HUD flashed red, a warning that he was an outlaw. I could shoot at him freely, without worrying about incurring the wrath of the sentry guns… if I thought I could take him. But one doesn’t get to outlaw status without being good at combat, and I wasn’t sure I could take as much damage as he could deal, even with my superior Khanid armor.

Then my HUD flashed. The Rapier pilot had been tracking this Rupture, and asked for my help killing him. So we followed the Rupture as he warped away to another station, and I sat just out of docking range while the Rapier was cloaked nearby. I targeted the outlaw and fired a single shot, then began moving away from the station. I kept my speed down as to not lose my lock on him, but in retrospect the Vengeance isn’t a fast ship, and I should have taken her up to full speed. The Rupture was on me almost instantly, and I managed to both give and take quite a bit of damage before I exploded. The Rapier had indeed de-cloaked, and was hammering away at the Rupture as I warped my capsule out. Getting in on the kill might just be worth the loss of my ship. I warped my capsule away, then back to the station so that I could see the action and dock if combat was still going on.

I cursed at what I saw: two Dominix-class battleships had arrived and had joined the fight on the side of the Rupture. There was to be no kill tonight. The Rapier pilot managed to get away, however, and as I arrived at my hangar, I found several cargo cases on the floor, with a note taped to the top one: “Thanks for the help. This should help cover your loss – from a frigate I took down earlier..” I opened the top one to find it full of high-tech focusing crystals and other expensive equipment.

This should make Guillome quite happy. If only he would show up with my damned money…

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Loss #6: Finally a good fight

Last night was another evening of roaming and finding very little beyond the automated industrial haulers that are so common late at night. After hours of searching, I did finally manage to find a Rifter in the system of Ostingele and after scanning him down, I realized he was chasing me. I laid in wait in a planetary orbit, and he was on me soon enough. We exchanged fire and it wasn’t long before I was at 50% structural integrity. I had him at about 70% armor at that point, when I mysteriously stopped taking damage. I managed to get him closer to 50% armor before I began taking damage again, and the Restock Three exploded. As I warped away, I pondered on why I had that brief period of grace.

I contacted the pilot later to ask how his Rifter was outfitted that he was doing damage so much faster than I had been. He informed me that he used only high-tech guns, and we discussed the merits of other fitting options. It’s strange, this universe where another pirate will try to kill you, and yet offer you advice later on.. and I like it here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

On Frigates

Oursulaert is one of my favorite places in the universe. Sure, nearby Luminaire has more history and more culture.. but a guy like me isn’t so interested in that crap. Oursulaert is like a smaller version of Jita – anything you want can be had for a price – often a pretty reasonable price. But here in Oursulaert, it’s extended to include all manner of Gallentean hedonism.

I’m sitting awake in a rented bunk, not far from a rented hangar where my newly-assembled Rifter, the Restock Three, lies waiting. My rented companion for the evening lies next to me, and I wonder idly if she’s supposed to be back at the pleasure hub by now. I look around at the small room and know it's one of the last times I'll see this system.. CONCORD has been decreasing my security status, and soon they won't let me in.

My thoughts return to the Restock Three, recently purchased. I’ve been flying Rifters a lot lately. Punisher-class frigates were my first love, but despite many pilots being fans of their abilities, I find them lacking for this line of work – their lack of space for propulsion and jamming systems makes hunting difficult. I’m licensed to fly other classes of ship beyond frigates – destroyers, cruisers, and battleships. I have even piloted high-tech assault frigates. But given the state of my bank accounts, I dare not risk such expensive ships against other capsuleers.

I’ve been training recently to pilot interceptors, which I would be much more willing to take into combat than their heavier cousins, the assault frigates. But one thing Assault Frigates have taught me is that I love the ships of the Khanid Kingdom, my homeland. Ships designed for missiles are a perennial favorite of mine. Given that, I wonder if I should cross-train in flying the heavily missile-focused Caldari ships and learn to fly their dreaded Crow-class interceptor. I’ll start with the Khanid version, the Malediction-class interceptor.

I could make the jump to fighting in cruiser-sized vessels, which would be cheaper than interceptors, but I do love frigates. I begin wondering how well a Maller-class cruiser would do, when my Gallentean companion stirs and brings me back to the present.

For now, I’ll stick with my Rifter.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Loss #5: A false start

After failing to find prey while hunting, I was sitting outside a station in Old Man Star, thinking I might keep an eye on any passing traffic. After a little while, an Incursus-class frigate warped in, and sat outside the station as well. After a moment, he approached my Rifter and jettisoned a piece of ammunition from his hold. I knew the drill - he wanted to fight, and taking the ammo he dropped trick the sentry guns into thinking I had stolen from him so that we could fight without intervention.

I targeted him, grabbed the piece of ammo, and waited. My ship flashed a notice on my HUD, and I punched all my weapon systems into action. Apparently, that notice had not been about incoming fire, as the sentry guns spun up and tore through my Rifter in seconds. The other pilot was good-natured, and let me know over the local comms channel that he wished the sentries had not intervened, he'd been looking for a fair fight. Looks like I'll have to give him a rain check..

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Loss #4: Punisher-class 'Tattoo One'

Same old story here.. almost no targets to be found at my time of night. I wound up wandering over to the Essence region again, and in Aeschee there were a number of pilots - most of which were members of the same corp. Looks like there was to be no hunting here, but I tried anyways. On the scanner, I noticed a Probe-class frigate and began trying to track him down. As I was doing so, a Stabber-class cruiser also appeared on my scanner. I jumped around a bit, trying to figure out where they both were, when the Stabber warped in to my location, piloted by Burn Mac of the Tuskers. Fit with high-tech modules, I decided to give him the fight he was looking for. But fighting a stabber in a Punisher is always the wrong idea, especially against a pilot from a corp I respect like the Tuskers.

The Stabber was too fast for me, even with my MicroWarp drive, and with no room for a stasis web on the Punisher to slow him down, I was unable to keep him in my range, though I have to admit the armor on the Punisher does hold out pretty well. It took longer than I expected for the Tattoo One to explode, which meant I had more time to react, and got my capsule out safely.

I chatted briefly with Burn Mac before departing, and it reaffirmed my respect for the Tuskers. Losing to you guys is almost a pleasure. Almost. Maybe you're next, Wensley..

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Loss #3: Age can be deceiving

After jumping over to Orvolle to outfit another Rifter, the Restock One, I wandered around Placid and Verge Vendor again, itching to get back into the fray. Finding myself in Ouelletta yet again - it was the only system around with active pilots in it - I started looking for prey again. As it turned out, most of the pilots around were off fighting at hidden Serpentis outposts, and I didn't have the probing equipment to find them. I did track down a young pilot, only several months out of the academy, who was patrolling the asteroid belts in a Vexor-class cruiser. I decided to test him, given his young age.

I warped in about 10 klicks out from him, and instantly had his engines scrambled and was tearing through his shields. His guns couldn't even hit me as I orbited, and I began to get confident. Then, as if he had forgotten for a few seconds, his drone bay opened up and five Hobgoblin II drones swarmed out at me. I was caught off guard that a pilot so young would have the skill to control such high-tech drones, but the proof was right in front of me.. and it was chewing through my armor. I tried to warp away when I realized my error, but only escaped with my capsule. I acknowledged to the pilot that he had bested me, and went to hide in a local station to plan out how to proceed from there.

The night was turning out to be a night of expensive lessons...

Loss #2: Don't fly angry

Infuriated by some issues station-side, I stormed into my hangar and jumped into the Rust Two, intent on blowing off some steam. I hadn't gone hunting again since I lost the Rust One, and I was ready for more action. I made my way back to Ouelletta, which was becoming one of my favorite systems.

Once in the system, I scanned down an Incursus-class frigate, which seemed to be moving alone. I warped around, trying to pinpoint his location, and eventually warped in right on top of him around a planet. I kicked in all of my systems and everything spun up in the dance that I was starting to get used to, but.. one piece was missing. Something didn't sound right. My guns weren't firing.

In my haste to get out of my hangar, I had forgotten something entirely basic: to load any ammo into my guns. I cursed loudly as I figured out too late what had happened. The Incursus had me scrambled, and its blasters were already working deep into my armor. I laid out a course for my capsule and punched it into warp as the Rust Two exploded behind me.

An entire ship lost because of a stupid mistake. Now I know why they teach you to double check your entire systems list before takeoff in the academy...