Saturday, 8 August 2009

Blasters, Bubbles and Blobs in lower Providence

To Enforce Amarrian law and bring an end to piracy in the Empire

-1st Objective of CVA’s ‘Operation Deliverance’

We came because the Capsuleers of Amarr had begun their so-called ‘Operation Deliverance’.

Amarrian Imperialists seeking to expand their holdings and spread the foul practice of slavery in the name of a twisted god.

-Ushra’Khan Broadcast to the Residents of Providence.

Lately, it seems that Providence has been heating up. U’K, has, of late, stepped the fighting against the ProviBloc, most notably Sylph alliance, up a notch or two. Thus, It seems to be the perfect place for a pirate such as me to insert himself among the chaos, and, if lucky, peel off a couple of kills here and there. On Wednesday morning, I did just that.

After a highly eventful op with Wensley (one of the most fruitful too: we killed a Rifter, an Ishtar [OOC: I had to log so I didn’t get on the killmail], an Ishkur, a Catalyst [missed the kill but nabbed the pod] and a Vexor) much of the corp was thinking only of returning to Hevrice and turning in for the night. Personally, I was too wide awake to even contemplate my bed back at the station and decided to roam around Amarr space for a couple of hours until I felt tired enough to dock for the night. With that, I dropped fleet and set my destination to the Saidusairos system in The Bleak Lands.

The roam down to the system was fairly boring, I tried to engage another outlaw Rifter at a gate in Gratesier but he warped out when I locked weapons onto him. I arrived in Saidusairos with my guns ice cold and fast asleep. I, however, was still wide awake and decided to extend my roam into something more substantial. After a moment’s contemplation, I set a course for Amamake

Arriving in Oyonata, I had a sudden change of mind. Seeing as KBP7-G (an entry system to Providence) was so close, I decided that it would be more fun to see how my old haunt, Providence, was fairing. With only a moment’s hesitation, I reset my destination to the system of KBP7-G, one of two high-security entry systems into the region.

Again, the journey to KBP itself was uneventful. An outlaw pilot in a thrasher chased me through Sosala and Kamela, but was nowhere near fast enough to catch my Rifter. He finally managed to tackle me on the Choonka gate. Without panicking, I jumped through and made the two final jumps to KBP7-G

The insertion into Providence was easier then I had expected. The KBP7-G gate was completely empty, even with 40 pilots- 30 of them CVA- in local. However, a Latchesis pilot that had seen me jump into the system was halfway into anchoring a sling bubble at the XHQ-7V gate when I landed. Frustrated, the pilot took a few token shots at my Rifter before I jumped out with my shields barely scratched.

I continued through the heavily populated system of 9UY4-H into the THHH-T constellation, which adjoins the northern and southern parts of Providence. Again, no fights were to be found as I headed down to the system of R3-K7K, my exit system.

I arrived in R3-K7K to find 20 other pilots in local. Cautiously, I moved to the Mamet gate (which is not scannable from any of the planets in the system) to find a Crow belonging to a CVA pilot sitting at the gate, not 10 kilometers away from me. As soon as I land, he burned away from me at close to 5,000 m/s. Foolishly, I lock and open fire but the Crow is to far away for me to land any substantial blows, while his missiles maintain good damage against my shields. I try to cut his orbit off next, but his maneuvering is surgically precise and he maintains range with ease. Realizing that I will not ever get close enough to point him, and shut down his MWD, I attempt to deagress and jump through. However, he is going through my armor too quickly for me to wait my aggression timer down and jump out.

Just when all seems lost, a Taranis (this one belonging to a neutral pilot) warps in at range and engages the first crow, who burns away from me to aggress the new interceptor. At this point, he moves out of scram range and his point on my ship drops. Taking this as my queue to leave the area, I warp to a planet before jumping out of the system.

Again, things cool down as I leave R3. I begin check out the surrounding systems of N8XA-L and 1-1I53, eventually finding myself blocked in by two VVA gate camps in AY-YCU. As I attempt to retrace my steps, an Eris class interdictor lands on the ZT-LPU gate and preempts my jump. I jump in shortly afterwards.

I appear on the gate 17 kilometers from the Gallente interdictor, who immediately puts a bubble up. Deciding that the most important thing to do is to burn away from the bubble, I align to a planet and engage my afterburner. The ‘dictor pilot is quick on the uptake and MWD’s towards me. As he does, he comes within the falloff range of my blasters, and I open fire. The Eris pilot double webs me, and cycles up his blasters and missile launcher.

We orbit each other at close range. His blasters are melting my shields and chewing into my armor; I finish the last of his shields with me at 70% armor integrity. Now into armor, the Eris pilot overheats his guns but they are repeatedly missing, giving me a brief respite, in which I make ground against his ship, dissolving his armor slowly until it is almost at par with him.

The fighting now intensifies, we are both slugging away, our respective integrities almost the same. Although I have less of a buffer then him, and my armor is dropping faster then his, I enter structure with his armor at 20% (or less) integrity.

Now in structure, another VVA pilot jumps in, this time in a Taranis. The remaining structure of my Rifter is almost wiped away before a small amount of my armor is reconstituted. My guns are now melting the interdictor’s hull, but not nearly fast enough. All I need is one more shot!

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:45 ] (combat) Your group of 200mm AutoCannon II places an excellent hit on Defqon [ASSTI]<ABOVE>(Eris), inflicting 307.2 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:46 ] (combat) Light Ion Blaster II belonging to Defqon misses you completely.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:46 ] (combat) Light Ion Blaster II belonging to Defqon hits you, doing 38.5 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:46 ] (combat) Light Ion Blaster II belonging to Defqon lightly hits you, doing 29.7 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:46 ] (combat) Light Ion Blaster II belonging to Defqon hits you, doing 27.3 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:46 ] (combat) Light Ion Blaster II belonging to Defqon hits you, doing 27.7 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:48 ] (combat) Your Foxfire Rocket hits Defqon [ASSTI]<ABOVE>(Eris), doing 29.8 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:48 ] (combat) Thorn Rocket belonging to Defqon hits you, doing 7.8 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:48 ] (combat) Hobgoblin II belonging to Defqon heavily hits you, inflicting 29.5 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:48 ] (combat) Your group of 200mm AutoCannon II hits Defqon [ASSTI]<ABOVE>(Eris), doing 177.9 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:48 ] (combat) Light Ion Blaster II belonging to Defqon hits you, doing 21.6 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:48 ] (combat) Light Ion Blaster II belonging to Defqon misses you completely.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:48 ] (combat) Light Ion Blaster II belonging to Defqon hits you, doing 31.5 damage.

[ 2009.08.07 00:21:48 ] (Notify) Ship is out of control.

My Rifter succumbs with the Eris at less then 50% hull integrity. To add insult to injury, he puts up a bubble as soon as my Rifter pops and catches my pod too. Although, after such a long journey, I am glad to be able to simply take the pod express home.

A good fight indeed!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Small World (Pt II)

N1231’s Rifter class frigate, Sunray, cruised silently through the empty space, in an arbitrary spot between the fifth and sixth planets of the Hevrice star system. The scoping arrays on the powerful, high-tech, 200mm Automatic Cannons- often colloquially known as ‘AutoCannons’- mounted on the frigate, glowed orange-red, like angry eyes in the blackness of interplanetary space.

N1 himself sat in the captain’s chair at the front of the ship, surveying the beauty of the surrounding space. The local nebula, a pool of cobalt blue light rimmed with steely grey, gave a gauzy glow, lit from within by the collective lights of thousands of seemingly unreachable stars. For once, N1 wished he was at the helm of the Cheetah class covert ops ship, so that he could take in this vista without fear of being tracked down by fellow combat pilots. With its numerous internal baffles and stealth ablative coatings, the Cheetah classes of Covert Ops ships were extremely difficult to probe out, and, with its engines on low power and its cloaking device engaged, the ship was a dark as interstellar space.

A high-pitched chirping from the communications console indicating a private communication request pulled N1 from his thoughts. He quickly accepted the request and found the face of Courier displayed on his main visual feed, weirdly distorted by the curvature of the screen.

“Hello, Courier”

Courier blinked heavily before responding, his face registering a slight grimace as he did. His somewhat less then friendly run-ins with several of the Caldarian mega-corporations had resulted in a slew of tortures that had left Courier in a state described by N1’s technical crew as ‘quirky’. Most obvious of these ‘quirky’ traits was a sight flinch which occurred occasionally when he blinked, courtesy of an experimental implant inserted into his retinas by the torturers at Lai Dai. N1 had found Courier living as a vagabond on the streets of Pator and had taken a liking to him, offering him the chance to become a pod pilot and act as his personal hauler.

Courier quickly shook himself to clear his head and glanced at a data pad before addressing N1.

“Ah, Numbers!” he exclaimed, making use of N1’s callsign “I just wanted to inform you that I have completed transportation of the Assault Frigate skill packages. I bought ten of the skill sets in Listabanne and have put them on the market in Arnon with a 10% markup.”

“Very good,” N1 replied, “Will there be anything else?”

The Brutor looked away distractedly, speaking to another crew member off-screen.

“You are currently in Hevrice?”

“Yes” N1 replied

“It seems I may have something else for you,” Courier grinned manically “It appears that a Hulk class exhumer might be en route to your system”

N1 sat up a little straighter, his eyes suddenly alert and wide

“A Hulk?” he enquired

“Apparently so”

“Did you catch the name of the pilot?”


“What about the name of the ship?”


N1 frowned slightly. A hulk was a dream catch for a pirate. The hull itself usually cost over 100 million ISK, not to mention the scores of expensive modules and rigs that could be fitted to the ship. However, without any knowledge of the age of the pilot, it was quite impossible to determine how the pilot would react in a combat situation, and Hulks were potentially dangerous to small ships in a combat situation.

“Ok,” N1 replied, “I’ll look into it.”

N1 squelched the COM and activated the ships scanning arrays, doing a blanket scan of all celestial objects within a 14 AU radius. He was greeted by a slew of results. The list primarily consisted of starbase structures and cargo containers. Realizing that it would be highly inefficient to continually scan through such results, N1 reconfigured his overview to display only mining barges and Exhumer class ships. Whil he trusted courier's judgement, there was still a risk that the hulk could have been mistaken as a lesser Retriver class mining barge.

He repeated the scan and got a hit on an Exhumer. Working quickly, he narrowed down the results further and tracked the hulk to an asteroid belt at the very edge of his operational scan range. He quickly pulled his frigate into a tight turn and aligned to the celestial. As his ship hit 75% operational velocity, his warp drives engaged and his frigate sped towards the asteroid belt.

N1 landed on the belt, 20 kilometers off from his intended target. The hulk was sandwiched between several asteroids, all mining lasers active and harvesting. The mining ship was surrounded by a flight of low-tech ‘Hobgoblin’ drones. Judging by their wide orbits and slow speeds, it seemed to N1 that the pilot of the ship was ill-experienced and poorly trained with drones. Still, if the pilot had fitted any kind of propulsion inhibition modules, the drones could pose a significant threat; it would be prudent to take them out first.

As soon as N1 appeared on his overview, the pilot began to align to an arbitrary point in space, clearly preparing to warp to a safe spot. However, he was too close to several asteroids and had to continually pulse his lateral thrusters to avoid crashing headlong into one of the massive objects. This bought N1 several seconds to close the distance between him and the panicking pilot.

Now 15 km from the target, N1 locked his weapons onto four of the drones and the exhumer itself. The Exhumer pilot responded in kind, ordering his drones to attack. N1 quickly fired upon the closest Drone to him. The lumbering Hobgoblin was caught in a hail of 200mm projectile rounds, and ceased to exist. He quickly turned his attention to each of the medium scout drones, destroying all of them in turn. The pilot, sensing defeat, redoubled his efforts to enter warp, but remained inhibited by several of the near-by asteroids.

Now within 7,500 meters of his target, N1 engaged his warp scrambler, disrupting the navigational systems of the target, preventing him from entering warp. He quickly followed up by activating all three of his 200mm AutoCannons and his rocket launcher against the defenseless Exhumer. Rounds of ‘Barrage’ type ammunition, combined with high-yield EM rockets, slammed against the mining ship, demolishing its shields in a matter of minutes. With its primary means of defense down, the lightly armored vessel seemed to melt under the power of his weapon systems. As the superstructure of the ship began to show through, N1 opened a private COM link with the pilot.

“Good evening,” N1 opened the conversation, smiling with confidence and complacency as he did.

The pilot, in return, opened a visual feed with N1. His face appeared on the main view screen of N1’s Rifter. The miner looked vaguely familiar to N1. He recalled meeting someone who looked painfully similar to him on one of his numerous roams. A flicker of anger passed across the victim pilots face but was tactfully replaced by a strained smile.

“Evening,” The victim miner responded in a would-be-casual voice, “What is it that you want from me?”

“100 million ISK for that safety of your ship and pod” N1 demanded coolly, replacing his confident- borderline arrogant- smile with straight, businesslike face.

“Do I not know you?”

For a second, a flicker of disbelief played across N1’s face. He looked up again at the pilot, this time taking in his overlarge glasses, his tattered pilot’s jacket, and his shoulder-length dreadlocks. Suddenly, realization dawned, and N1 broke into an unpleasant smile.

“Evening Daal”

The Brutor pilot seemed to relax. N1, however, tensed slightly, his hands balling into fists; from the body language of the pilot, it seemed that he was expecting N1 to let him get off scot-free, as it were.

The pilot opened his mouth to speak, but N1 cut across him sharply:

“If you are expecting me to show you any leeway, Daal, you are sadly mistaken. Just because I met you in a bar does not allow you to traverse low-security space without ramifications.”

Daal’s relaxed smile melted off of his face. He muttered something offscreen to one of his crewmembers before returning to his visual feed with a triumphant leer.

Suddenly, N1 noticed the cause of his triumphant attitude; a flight of 5 ‘Warrior’ drones appeared on his overview. Obviously, Daal thought he could destroy his Rifter before he destroyed his ship. Not pausing to target the drones, N1 reactivated his AutoCannons and web. At the same time, Daal ordered his drones to attack. Rounds of barrage smashed against the Hulk, tearing pieces of armor plating and internal structure asunder. The Warrior drones fired their miniature autocannons at N1, pounding his shield like a drum. Within seconds, the drones were through his shield and eating at his armor. N1 was forced to activate his repairer, allowing waves upon waves of nanites to reconstitute areas where his armor plating was breached. The hulk was at 25% structural integrity and dropping. He could make it!

Just… One… More… Shot…

Suddenly, a flash of blue light eerily illuminated the surrounding asteroids. His lock on the hulk dropped as there was no ship remaining to target. N1 sighed in relief, stripped any modules of worth from the wreck and waited for his criminal flag wind down.

Later that day, N1 sat in the bar in the Hevrice V station. He wondered why Daal hadn’t just launched the Warrior drones after he lost his first flight or how the drones managed to eat away his shields so quickly. He shrugged mentally at both quieries and returned to his docking bay with the intention of expediting repairs to his Rifter. As he walked, the final words of Daal reverberated in his head as they had exited the bar:

I shall see you around

He had immediately interpreted this as ‘I shall fight you at some later date’ but then realized that Daal probably didn’t expect or want a fight. He had immediately assumed that Daal, like him, was a fighter.

‘Maybe this is a sign that you are looking at everyone as a potential target’ he thought to himself

He pushed the idea out of his head and, upon reaching his Rifter's docking bay spent the remainder of the morning and much of the afternoon working on repairing his Rifter. A projectile from one of Daal’s drones had severed a control line in his left bow section, resulting in impaired tracking on the port-side gun. He was having considerable difficulty with reparations. As a result, by the time he had finally completed work on his ship, nearly eight hours later, he had completely forgotten about the affair with Daal earlier, until his NeoCom flashed, indicating that Daal had sent him a Private message:

Well, you're an absolute bastard, doing that to a cadet! Well, what goes around comes around… I’ll see you at some future point...



N1 suppressed a strange urge to smile as he read through the message. With any luck, he may have just made himself a new enemy, or, at the very least, stripped away any naïveté that the pilot may have had about the world of piracy.

Monday, 27 July 2009

A Month to Remember

It has been a very long but fun couple of weeks. Almost three weeks of numerous discoveries, new ships, and a slew of both gang and solo kills, both putting an end to my dry spell, culminating in the destruction of my brand new Jaguar (The now late Ascendant Horizons) and a rather funny hate mail from a disgruntled Brutix pilot.

Battle Atron

Inspired by the endeavors of Izzybella and Wensley, I decided to try out a different ship for roaming, namely, the Atron class frigate.

Like many of the low-tier frigate class ships, the Atron is often overlooked as a solo ship, usually enjoying limited use as a light tackler. Like all ships of its class (namely, all Tech I frigates geared towards speed, colloquially known as ‘Ceptor Precursors) the Atron has virtually no tank (other than a Damage Control II) but is still able to survive many engagements by virtue of its sheer speed. This nimble little frigate can reach over 1,000 m/s with an afterburner fitted and has an orbital velocity of 900 m/s at 2,500 meters, well able to get under the guns of almost any ship while maintaining comparatively good damage against its target.

After looking at several Atron fits, I decided to mix things up and put lasers on my ship. Lasers sacrifice DPS for better range, which equates to a greater orbital distance resulting in a higher angular velocity, thus playing to the strengths of ships of this class. With Scorch ammunition fitted, I am able to hit accurately at a range of 10,600 meters while maintaining a DPS of 54. I can do more damage with a Multifrequency S focusing crystal fitted although this reduces my range dramatically, to the point where I have to close my orbit to 500 meters to inflict any damage whatsoever on my target.

Tired of EFT worrioring and theory crafting, I instructed Courier, my highsec trader, to purchase me an Atron, complete with fittings. He happily shot off in his Wreathe class industrial ship, and returned with a disassembled Atron, complete with a full compliment of high-tech modules to use. My technical crew entered the hanger to assemble and fit the packaged ship, and, within minutes my Atron was fitted and ready to go. I ran an abbreviated on board systems check and prepped the ship for launch. Within minutes, my Atron roars out of the station into space.

The first thing I notice about the Atron is its maneuverability; the ship has a very tight turn even with an afterburner fitted. It also maintains a respectable speed while turning, thus reducing the likelihood of sustaining damage from high caliber guns. After several fleet ops, I am adamant that the Atron is more than just a viable combat ship.

The next day, I planned to go for a roam around Hulmate with my newfound ship. However, as I undocked, I found a fellow Atron class frigate sitting outside the station. After a minute or so of playing around with the target, attempting to get him to fight me, I bumped the pilot out of undock range and he engaged me.


I returned his lock, span up my weapon systems, launched my drone and activated my afterburner and tackling gear. My ship arced gracefully into a tight 2,500 meter orbit and my weapons began to land hits on the opponent. The pilot responded in kind, and fired upon me with a civilian blaster and rail gun. Within seconds, the opponents’ shields were overwhelmed and he entered armor. By contrast, my ship was holding at 80% shield integrity. With the target in structure, I opened a ransom channel and asked that he tell me a joke to save his ship. He failed to respond within the thirty seconds I allocated him and thus I popped his ship. A one-sided fight perhaps but a fun one nonetheless…

The final Flight of Ascendant Horizons

Since the beginning of my career in New Eden, I have always respected the Matari race for their willpower, ingenuity, innovation, and, not least of which, their seemingly uncanny ability to take a collection of wire mesh, girders, steel plating and the bare minimum of electronics and on-board engineering equipment (not forgetting spit, glue and copious amounts of duct tape to bind it all together) to produce some of the most feared ship-to-ship combat vessels to roam the space lanes of the New Eden cluster.

Within the first few weeks graduating from the Imperial Academy, I came to the realization that, for frigates, ships I imagined to be speedy and maneuverable, I would be better suited flying a different ship that the Amarrian Punisher class frigate. After consulting the guides of several older and more experienced pilots, I came to the conclusion that Minmatar ships would be the order of the day for light combat. Within a week of my graduation, I was as well spec’d in the Minmatar Rifter class frigate as I was in the Amarr Punisher.

I roamed far and wide in my Rifter, fighting targets more experienced than myself. I eventually came to love the Rifter for what it was: a fast, powerful and genuinely dangerous combat vessel. However, I longed for more. While the Rifter was fast and powerful, the defenses on the ship are lacking, to say the least. The ship relies primarily on its small signature radius and high-speed capabilities to see it through combat relatively unscathed while absorbing small amounts of damage with its armor plating and limited damage mitigation systems. While this is more than adequate in many situations, for example against ships fielding high caliber turrets, it also makes the ship relatively unforgiving; one mistake and you will usually find yourself waking up in a clone vat with a bad headache and much less equipment.

Fortunately, help came in the form of the Jaguar class assault frigate. The Jaguar is a combination of all of the aspects I want from such a frigate sized ship; it combines the speed of a Rifter with the firepower and survivability of a cruiser class vessel. After almost 4 months of intensive training, I was primed to see my dream come true. I had embarked on the final training courses required to effectively fly the jaguar class ship. The same day I embarked on my career of piracy, a very kind member of my ex corporation gave me 3 of the much loved assault ships on the condition that I do not destroy his much loved ships should I bump into him on my piracy career.

In short, I flew my jaguar far and wide, both and gangs and solo. I loved the speed and maneuverability of the ship; I could reach far greater speeds with the jaguar than that of the Rifter (1010 m/s as opposed to 989 m/s), inflict more damage (150 DPS vs. 109) and tank more damage (69 peak shield recharge as opposed to 34 armor rep).

The end of my jaguar came during an attempted extradition of one of our corps carriers. We had decided to disperse a small, very annoying, FW blob by dropping an Archon class carrier on their gang. As soon as the formidable capital ship flashed on their overviews, the blob scattered without any of us able to successfully point any targets. The FW gang returned, this time with some heavier firepower and not a small amount of ECM. A hasty extradition was planned, where we would warp in and destroy the ECM boats before targeting the lighter ships. Despite our best efforts, the assault on the FW blob was incoherent, poorly planned and chaotic, made worse by the heavy lag my computer experienced when loading grid. I tried to target a Tristan class frigate when suddenly a message flashed up:

“You cannot do that in a capsule”


It seems that I had lagged so badly, I had my jaguar destroyed before the computer had the chance to render the explosion of my ship graphically. Naturally I was infuriated; I had not managed to take out one single ship in this gang! Not one! And to top it all, I lost a Jaguar worth 50 million ISK.

Not impressed

However, the carrier pilot managed to keep his ship intact, so at least one good thing came out of this all. And, of course, I shall continue flying jaguars.

As soon as I have the money, that is…..

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Small World

N1 surveyed the inside of the Terra Vista Restaurant in Republic Justice Tribunal. Low, indirect lighting softly lit the bars interior, and the scores of customers seated inside. Almost every race was represented in the bar: a group of Intaki pilots sat at the centre table, sipping cocktails and speaking in a language incomprehensible to N1. A couple of Sebeistor teenagers spoke in low tones in a table to the far right corner of the bar, casting dirty looks at a trio of Ammatar pilots who were smoking heavily at the adjacent table. As N1 crossed the bar he noticed other races; groups of Achura, Krusal, Jin Mei, Gallente and Brutor.

“But no Ammarrians” N1 thought.

Such was to be expected in Matari space. The Minmatar detested Ammarians, and Minmatar proprietors would often ban Ammarians from their premises, regardless of political affiliation or religious beliefs; simply because of their race.

Sighing, N1 crossed the room. In his dark robe and hood, he stood out from the remainder of the restaurant. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that the Sebeistor couple had turned their attention away from their Ammatar neighbors to shoot him looks of pure loathing. The Intaki group at the centre table collectively glanced at him and fell back to their conversation. N1 briefly considered going back to his ship and finding a friendlier station in Amarrian space but decided against it, instead walking to the bar at the back of the room and sitting down at one of the many stools available there, next to a burly looking Brutor. As he sat down, the Brutor shot him a slight glance and returned to watching the massive plasma TV mounted against the far right wall of the bar. The television was replaying a Scope broadcast from several hours ago. A picture of a lone Minmatar soldier sat in a court house with his lawyer. Underneath read the slogan ‘Roc Wieler: Soldier or Slaver?’

As he watched, the Brutor sitting next to him snorted:

“Psh, the whole worlds gone to shit, The Angel cartel has taken Konora, and all they can focus on is one soldier making some money on the side”

“Yes, well,” N1 replied “what he is doing is wrong.”

The Brutor turned and surveyed N1. The scowl on his face seemed to fade slightly and he surveyed the Amarrian pod pilot through fresh eyes.

“You do not support the slave trade?” he asked


“That is very odd for someone such as yourself; All the Ammarrians I meet seem to be all up in arms in support of slavery.”

N1 shrugged: “I honestly don’t care. I am a pod pilot. The world planeside is of no concern to me. I fly ships, I ransom people for money, such is life. People enslave people out of laziness, and while my race veils their intentions with religious rhetorical claptrap,Their base motives are as despicable as any common thug”

The Brutor was about to retort when the bartender tapped N1 on the shoulder. He turned, half expecting the barkeep to ask him to leave:


“Do you want a drink?” the bartender asked

“Ah yes” he replied “May I have a beer please?”

The bartender turned, filled a rather large tankard with beer from one of the taps on the bar front and slammed it down before N1, sloshing a great deal of the amber liquid on the table.

“Oh come off it!” N1 said sharply “I am in here for a drink. I am not going to enslave anybody. Take your damn prejudices and run on back to Pator where somebody gives a shit!”

The bartender looked for a moment like he would sincerely like to hit N1, but restrained himself, shot him a look of pure loathing, and returned to cleaning glasses. Throughout the entire encounter, the fellow Brutor sitting at the counter looked entirely unphased. As the bartender left, he chuckled slightly: an invitation to continue conversation.

“I assume you see that often” N1 muttered

“All the time, my friend. Do you receive such dislike so regularly often?”

“All the time”

The two fellow pilots chuckled slightly. Overhead, on the TV, Roc Wieler was led away from the courthouse back into custody. The Brutor pilot exhaled heavily and returned to his drink.

“The Minmatar navy has lost a great officer” He sighed

“They shall find another one” N1 said evenly, “And perhaps he will do the same things as his predecessor, perhaps he will not”

“That’s a very cynical viewpoint”

N1 shrugged “Cynicism often speaks truths that are too negative and awkward for people to accept”

“Where are you from originally?” The fellow pilot asked

“Me?” N1 replied, “Athra”

“I thought we were supposed to be called ‘Amarr prime’”

“We are”

The two fellow pilots fell silent. N1 downed the rest of his drink and stood to leave. The Brutor pilot stood too.

“I really never got to know your name” the Brutor pilot said as N1 began to leave.

“I’m N1” he replied “Yourself”

“Daal” he replied “I shall see you around”

N1 smiled as he left. “I am sure I will”

Friday, 3 July 2009

Running and Gunning

I must do something to relieve these cramps-

This is what comes of lack of exercise-


My sword has gone to sleep!

Cyrano de Bergerac

As an outlaw, I am beginning to feel very much like a goldfish in a tank of piranhas. You travel far and wide and everyone, everyone, seems to be better then you at PVP and piracy in general. You find yourself running from one gate camp in your Rifter into the waiting arms of an AC equipped thrasher in an asteroid belt, out for blood, and your corpse to boot.

As a result, I have found little in the way of fights that could be considered of my class. Miners bolt at the sight of me and AF and HAC pilots catch me unawares at gates and relentlessly chase me through scores of star systems. New players and semi-experienced pirates also seem to be hesitant in engaging me. The result: a massive dry spell, with no end in sight. But what can one do, but fit up a Rifter and go out looking for targets of opportunity?

I logged in tonight with the intention of simply sorting out some logistical work and the associated busywork that goes with piracy. I was running low on ammunition and guns, so I sent my hauler to Dodixie to acquire the necessary items while I lounged around Hevrice for an hour or so, awaiting his return.

When Indy returned, he learned of a tusker fleet forming in Aeschee, with the intention of engaging two hostile ravens in the system. I quickly fitted up my Rifter and undocked from the station, running an abbreviated systems check on the way. I rendezvoused with the remainder of the fleet in Aeschee. Leo Solunar was probing the ravens and was almost able to pinpoint their location when the ravens noticed the probes on their directional scanner. Spooked, the two Caldari battleships bolted and jumped through to Lisbaetanne.

A game of cat and mouse ensued, with Leo camping the station in hopes of catching the location the two ravens as they undocked and went to warp. In the interim, the remainder of the fleet jumped into Jovainnon in order to make it appear as though they had left the locality. As part of the fleet held on the Aeschee gate in Jovainnon, a Hostile rapier jumped in and engaged us. The order was given to point and engage the rapier in the hope that we could swarm it before suffering any casualties.

Unfortunately for me, the Rapier targeted and webbed me first. As I began to cycle up my guns and initialize my target locking software, the hostile Rapier released of flight of 5 Warrior II combat drones and instructed them to engage my Rifter. Warrior II’s, as any Rifter pilot will know, are frigates worst nightmare. The pilot controlled his drones well and seemed to have optimized them for increased damage output. Within seconds, my shields were down and my armor was dropping at an alarming rate. I interrupted the activation cycles on my guns and tackling equipment before they had a chance to engage and aggress he hostile ship, thus preventing me from jumping out of the fight. By this time, the remainder of the fleet had entered the fray and multiple points were called. I was told to get out before my ship was destroyed, and, without hesitation, I activated the gate and jumped into Aeschee. I then re-approached the Jovainnon gate, at the same time activating my repair systems and waited for my repairer to cycle through before reentering the fray.

Luckily for me, my Rifter landed in Jovainnon in the middle of the ensuing fight, a comfortable 5km from my target. The Rapier looked like it was hurting; the pilot seemed to have a tough time managing so many targets and large areas of the ships superstructure were showing through. Not one to dawdle, I cycled my weapon systems on and began targeting the hostile ship, taking care not to activate my warp disruptor, which I would need to point his pod. However, before my targeting systems resolved a lock, the hostile ship exploded in a burst of sapphire blue light and he whipped his escape pod out almost immediately after his ship died. Naturally, I was disappointed, I had not appeared on the killmail (nor had I expected to) or managed to point his pod. The other fleet members reassured me of my significance in the fight. It seemed that it was his engaging me essentially determined the fight. Without me sitting helpless at the gate, the rapier mightn’t have engaged us and there would not have been a fight at all. Still, my thirst for combat had not been placated: I want to destroy, or at least shoot at, a ship.

The fleet safed up in Jovainnon while Leo returned to probing the two ravens that he was looking for previously. Caster, tired of waiting in Aeschee, jumped in to Hevrice and started combing the belts for targets. He accidently engaged a bait ship in his Ishtar and was ganked, in a truly disorderly fashion, by several battleships and a plethora of other tech 1 and 2 frigates, cruisers, and battlecruisers. The remainder of the fleet was helpless to assist him and his Ishtar popped after a minute or so of intense fighting.

Eventually, the hostiles left Hevrice, and fleet members began to enter the system. A Prophecy class battlecruiser was reported at a belt by one of the pilots shortly after the fleet jumped in. The Prophecy class BC is generally considered to be inferior to its counterpart, the Harbinger. The Harbinger is primarily geared towards damage output, with numerous on-board systems designed to optimize the damage output of its powerful laser systems. In contrast, the Prophecy is geared towards tanking, with vey thick armor plating and numerous high tech armor maintenance systems, designed to increase the overall base resistances of the Prophecy’s armor plating.

Taking such factors into account, it became clear that the Prophecy was present as a bait ship. Such suspicions were confirmed when Hud’rilian, a potential applicant to the corp, jumped into the neighboring system of Ranielles to find several of his corp mates waiting on the gate for the ship to be attacked so that they could jump in and destroy the offending fleet.

After a minute or so of delegation, it was decided that the fleet would undock and attempt to attack the offending prophecy, in tech I frigates (what else?) before the pilots support could warp in. Little time was spared in fitting up a plethora of frigates: two Rifters, a Tristan, two Icursii and a Catalyst all undocked form the station after only a couple minutes. Leo ordered us to align to the target asteroid belt so he could fleet warp us there. After a couple of seconds, all of the ships were aligned and the warp was initiated.

The fleet dropped out of warp about 20 km from the Prophecy. Immediately or T1 frigate fleet buzzed to life. I targeted the prophecy and ordered my navigation systems to approach the Amarr battlecruiser. My afterburner engaged with a satisfying roar and I burned towards the target at close to 1 km per second. I was 20km out and closing fast.

20km…15km…10km …7,500m… POINT!

My warp scrambler buzzed to life, disrupting the target’s navigational systems. My hands were a blur as they raced over various controls: managing my cap flow, activating and reloading guns and keeping my ship orbiting at a relatively tight 5,000m orbit.

The Prophecy responded in kind, launching a flight of Warrior II’s and activating tackling and weapon systems of his own against the various members of the fleet. Within seconds, Caster Rom’s Incursis melted under the combined power of the Warrior II’s and the Prophecy’s laser systems, followed by Robert Mason in his Catalyst and VC Charlie in his Tristan. Now the gang was down to 3 people: myself and Hud’rilian in Rifters, and Leo Solunar in his Incursis. We managed to finish the remainder of the Prophecy’s shields off and then began to work on the Amarr Battlecruiser’s heavy armor plating. Rounds of barrage and bolts of plasma pounded against the thick armor systems. The specially hardened rounds of projectile ammunition ricocheted and deflected, even shattered, against the ship, but to no avail. However, we persisted, pumping round after round of Barrage into the Prophecy, in the vain hope of destroying the ship before his support arrived.

Suddenly, my overview started to fill up with ships; a mixed bag of Cruisers, Battlecruisers and a Battleship or two. The order was given to disengage and ‘get out’ as fast as possible. I navigated away from the Prophecy managing to put 7 km of distance between me and him before he engaged his tackling systems upon my ship. Suddenly, my ship’s speed slowed dramatically and my overview began to flash yellow, indicating that the hostile fleet had locked their weapon systems on my- now relatively fragile- Rifter. Within seconds my shields and much of my armor had evaporated. I was relying on some of my armor and the very superstructure of my ship to hold until I could get out of range of his scrambler and disengage. Another volley from the ships and my Rifter was on fire, trailing bits of loose debris as I struggled to keep the ship from spiraling out of control.

Suddenly, I was out of scram range and my warp drives mercifully, miraculously, engaged. I sped away from the fight, thankful to still be in a ship, albeit one that was only intact due to my knowledge of on-board mechanics. I found a safe spot close to the station and began repairing my armor systems myself, allowing wave after wave of nanites to repair my tattered armor plating. Eventually, the police cooled to my presence and I warped to the station and docked up for the night. Finally my thirst for a fight was quenched.

And Sunray XI lives to fight another day…

Monday, 29 June 2009

Negative 5 (And Counting)

One of the real challenges of a pirate, particularly an aspiring pirate such as myself, is dealing with the inevitable consequences of your actions. Almost every pirate will, at some point, find themselves locked out of high security systems. Eventually, they may become outlaws, free game for anyone to kill on sight. For any aspiring pirate it is something which is inevitable. As a member of the Guristas Associates once said: “If, at the end of your pirate career, you don’t have a negative sec status, chances are you suck at pirating. Better just hop back in you hulk and get back to mining…”

Last night, I took the plunge and became an outlaw. On the way back from a roam in Amarr space, we encountered a thorax in Mormelot. Naturally, in a large gang and with Tracking Disruptors in our fleet, we could not lose, and the first Thorax popped as expected. As the first Thorax exploded, a second Thorax warped in and engaged us. He too was destroyed. The two engagements were positively mundane; such fights can be found anywhere. The differentiating factor of this fight was that the sec status hit from the first Thorax reduced my sec status to -5.1. I was now an outlaw…

Unfortunately I found no other engagements that night, docked up, and returned to Hevrice the next morning. The remainder of the morning was dominated by logistical runs and I found little solid time to undock until the evening.

Tonight, I took my new, fully fitted, Rifter for a spin. I checked out all of the usual places. However, as I entered Hulmate and Vitrause, the quintessential carebear systems, I found that all of the miners and ratters fled the system as I entered. I tried to engage an Auguror as he was sitting in Vitrause but he bolted as soon as I appeared on his overview. Discouraged, I continued to Palmon where I found no fights. Discouraged further, I decided to head to Old Man Star to find a fight.

As I jumped into Vitrause, I was greeted by a somewhat pleasant sight, an empty local channel. I decided to use this opportunity to run a quick test on my ship. I have heard of finding the sweet spot of your ship -the orbital radius where you angular velocity is highest- and endeavored to find out my sweet spot for myself. I began approaching the gate to do the first test at 500 meters when the gate activated and a Harbinger class Battlecrusier jumped into system. The harbinger spared no time in locking and firing upon my frigate, successfully stripping my shields away and cutting deeply into my armor. Panicking, I jumped through the gate again to Palmon with my armor at 50% integrity.

I waited for several minutes at the Vitrause gate but the harbinger did not jump through to reengage me. I jumped back into Vitrause to find both the Palmon and Onne gates to be mercifully empty.

Again, I found no fights in Aeschee or Ladister and my roam in Old Man Star was uneventful. Disappointed, I planned to return to Hevrice and dock up for the night when I discovered a problem with my overview settings which may have accounted for the somewhat anomalous lack of targets on my directional scanner. I landed on the Ladister gate and found it to be devoid of targets. Confident that the gate guns would protect me while I configured my overview settings (temporarily forgetting that I was an outlaw and that I could be aggressed by other ships without incurring the wrath of the sentry guns) to allow all ship types to appear on my overview, I quickly got to work.

As I configured my overview A Tristan landed on the gate and began to burn towards me. Blissfully unaware of the fact that the Tristan could aggress me at the gate, I thought nothing of it and continued to select the necessary ship types that would appear on my overview.

When the Tristan was within 1,000 meters of me, he locked me and opened fire with his powerful advanced blasters, stripping half my shields away. I quickly closed the overview screens, cycled my weapons and damage systems up and returned the lock. I was able to fire immediately but the one second it took for my targeting systems to acquire a firing solution, the Tristan was able to squeeze off another salvo at my ship, reducing my shields to 25% integrity. My targeting software finally resolved and my weapons systems sprang to life, my 200mm autocannons firing rounds of barrage at my target, melting his shields in a matter of seconds. Now, with both of us into armor, the fight quickly intensified. However, I made the mistake of choosing a tight 1,000 m orbit which meant that my autocannons poorer tracking reduced the damage I was inflicting on my target while his blasters and rockets successfully tore away at my armor. With my armor at 50% integrity and the Tristan’s at 75% I activated my repair systems and attempted to kite him to minimize his transversal. It worked for several moments, and I managed to land a slew of wrecking shots on the Tristan reducing his armor integrity to about 40% while I managed to hold my armor at just over 30%.

Now the fight went downhill. the Tristan called to his other corp member in system for backup, which swiftly arrived in the form of a Rifter class frigate. At the same time, my own Rifter capped out, and, under the combined power of both of the frigates guns, my ship succumbed.

So what did I learn from the fight you might ask? The answer: quite a lot. Firstly, I should always use ammo such as RF EMP for close range work; the tracking penalty inherent in Barrage makes it less ideal for close range work.

Secondly, I must remember, as an outlaw, to be prepared for a fight wherever I go; there are people everywhere spoiling for a fight and I must not become easy prey for them.

Thirdly, and most importantly, if I am going to draw my attention away from the main game screen, I must remember to safe up…

In the end, I made no excuses to the pilot; I simply posted a GF in local and went back to Hevrice in a pod. It was my own idiocy, and general ignorance that lost me my ship, and it my opponents daring and savvines that allowed him to come out on top. Now I know my mistake and shall continue to learn.

The next morning, I awoke to find a pleasant surprise on battleclinic. The offending pilot had lost his ship shortly after I lost mine, and I appeared as the top damage dealer. Justice had been achieved!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

East Is East

Although I like to think of myself as a veteran 0.0 pilot, the validity of such a bold statement is highly overstated. During my time as a member of The Caldari Confederation (abbreviated as the TCA) I spent an inordinate amount of time in Providence, basing myself out of 9UY4-H for weeks on end, ratting, mining and dodging- sometimes fighting- the occasional AAA or U’K gang that would pass though.

That said, it is hard to imagine providence as ‘true’ 0.0 space. For one thing, the area I like to call ‘Northern Providence’ (All areas accessed directly by the KBP7-G and Y-MPWL pipelines are dubbed 'Northern Povidence') are densely populated and relatively safe. Thanks to local Intel channels such as ‘thecitadel’, it is possible to know the location of a hostile gang almost as soon as they enter the region, meaning that, with all necessary precautions, it is possible to minimize, or even altogether avoid, ship loss. During my 5 months as a TCA member, I have only lost one ship in northern providence as a result of non-consensual PVP. Thus some find it easier to think of providence as an extension of low security, or ‘lowsec’ space.

Sothern providence is slightly different (I personally think of 'Southern Providence' as the area adjacent to the system of D-GTMI). Here, AAA and U’K roaming gangs are a frequent, almost everyday, occurrence and are generally free to roam the systems of 'Southern Providence' with relative ease. Thus 'Sothern Providence' can be likened to more to real 0.0 space, as opposed to an extension of lowsec, albeit a lowsec extension with better rats and ores. I’ll not say much about sothern providence as I have only really spent 3 or 4 days down there, during my short stint in the corporation ‘Whips Chains and Ballgags’. During that stint, I lost a drake to a U'K pilot and vowed never to head down there again.

However, yesterday, spurred on by the efforts of fellow tusker pilots such as Wensley, I decided to go for a roam in 0.0, namely the drone regions of the Kalevala Expanse and Etherium Reach. If I was lucky, I might extend the trip by heading to the system of M-VACR (a personal goal that I have yet to achieve) in the Cobalt Edge region. Spurred by the thrill of adventure, I fitted up a classic ‘active’ Rifter, filled its cargo hold with ammunition, and excused myself from the locality for the time being.

In order to save time, I decided not to travel exclusively through low security space and to cut through Gallente and Minmatar high security systems or ‘highsec’. This was to prove difficult as I cannot travel through any systems with a security of 0.6 or above in Gallente space. I am also dubbed an ‘enemy’ of the Minmatar, by virtue of the -5.0 standing I have with the faction, and thus cannot travel through any high security Minmatar systems without incurring the wrath of the local faction police.

This proved to be a non issue for the overwhelming majority of the highsec leg of my journey. However, an on the ball pilot in Colelie decided to annoy me slightly and bumped my Rifter while I was aligning to the Bei gate. This allowed a few members of the faction police to squeeze of a couple of shots at my rifter, successfully demolishing my shields and cutting slightly into my armor. However, I was able to warp out and passed through the remaining high security systems undisturbed.

I arrived in LXQ2-T without incident and set my destination for the system of HPV-RJ in the Kalevala Expanse, a system I was vaguely familiar with, having travelled through the system and the surrounding locality by means of a wormhole a number of months ago.

The Journey through Etherium Reach continued to be uneventful and somewhat boring. The drone regions are very large and tend to be sparsely populated, save for any border systems and some isolated pockets of activity. One pilot however took to chasing me through the region in his Vagabond. However he seemed ill experienced with 0.0 space as well as the local pipelines and systems, as he seemed to take his time at each gate, carefully contemplating where I could have gone. Eventually, he took a wrong turn and disappeared from local altogether, leaving me free to pass through the remainder of Etherium Reach unscathed.

Things took a turn for the worst as I jumped in to AY-B15. Both of the gates in the system were camped (but not bubbled, thank god). I evaded the first camp with surprising ease (no sensor boosted ‘ceptor and no interdiction bubbles meant that I went to warp before any of the camping pilots could lock and point me). Thus, I took to being chased by a group of rowdy pilots who were spoiling for a kill. As I jumped in to SG-3HY, a sensor boosted crow was waiting on the other side of the gate. As I aligned to the G-KCFT gate, the crow pilot locked and pointed me. However, I didn’t panic as I normally do in hopeless situations such as these. I returned his lock, loaded EMP ammunition into my autocannons and engaged my afterburner. It worked beautifully. I started to land light blows against his ship and my shield was absorbing his light missiles, corrently holding at 60% integrity. At least for the moment, I began to feel that I could win this fight and continue my journey.

As the Crow’s shields dropped to 50% integrity, support by means of a veritable fleet of Vagabonds (this ship is a damn Vagabond magnet!) as well as several Crows and Taranises. However only one Vagabond and one other crow managed to land blows on me before my poor little Rifter popped. To add insult to injury, my pod was popped shortly afterwards too.

It turned out to be a rather fruitless and uneventful trip. I didn’t make it to my destination system of HPV-RJ, nor did I learn that much from my one and only engagement of the trip, but such is life. At least now I have an idea of what real 0.0 is like!