27 Dec 2007

Losing three canes in one day...and so much fun too.

Sitting here, I try very hard to recall what happened yesterday. It was a blur of fire and screams and noise. I recall the excited heat of combat and the searing pain of loss and the renewed energy of re-engaging in a fight after having had my ship shot out from underneath me. I stare at my ship inventory and see that I am down three hurricane-class battle cruisers, two solo-variants and the fleet variant. A big blow to be sure to my fighting ability.
However, I glance over at the corp's killboard and see that the tally included a hulk, rook, vagabond, tempest, typhoon, hyperion, drake (three of them) a hurricane, thorax and a vexor. I start to struggle to recall how it went but luckily, all my ships had an automated communication and video logger. I tapped a few buttons and the stored files unspooled from memory and started playing. I sat back, with a cup of tea and a 'do not disturb' sign on my door and enjoyed the show.

++HULK TAKE DOWN. 13:34 eve time++

Jubes and Snake Boy were already online and the three of us were moving around hunting for targets. Snake was our prober and was seeding his scan probes around Gusandall and Ingunn. We had hits from mission runners but not enough to go in close enough to make a difference. It was good that Snake could find time to roll with us, as working with us allowed him to see if he wanted to join Black Flag and whether Black Flag would accept him. It takes some time to get up to the level of skill and experience but with some patience, Snake Boy will hopefully have the BF flag on his arm in the near future. At the moment however, we were unlucky and I docked and went to sleep. An hour later, both Jubes and Snake had gone but there were some M34N and Hellequin pilots online. They are the only blue corps to Black Flag and have proved on many occasions to be excellent pilots and blood thirsty pirates to boot.

Taking the solo-cane, I went roaming and in the first system, I spotted a three-year old veteran. My interest was increased further when I saw that he was driving a hulk-class exhumer. By the Gods! I thought, a hulk mining here?

I hit the scan and within 3 seconds, had narrowed him down to a belt. Am confident using the inbuilt scanner and if something is in a belt or near a planet; I will usually get it. I quickly tapped in the course coordinates and my Hurricane-class battlecruiser, 'The Eternal Damnation', powered up and nudged itself into space, accelerating and then into warp. I kept the scanner pinging ahead to ensure that I could quickly recalculate his new position, if I was wrong with my initial scan. However, the hulk did not move. I exited warp in a flash and found that hulk aligned to a planet and battling against two Angel cruisers. I quickly swung my battlecruiser around and hit the microwarpdrive. My excitement building slowly as the distance between him and my ship dropped from 58km to 48km to 38km and then he warped. I realised as I was in warp to the belt, that this warp-to-planet would happen and quickly warped after him, guessing correctly, where he had warped to. I landed now 8km from him and on came the tackling gear. I opened up with ACs into his shields. They are relatively tough for a non-combat ship, but in these circumstances, the shields evaporated. He was already aligning. I laughed.

Am sure the Hulk pilot laughed even harder when he warped out from under me.

'Shit'. I thought. 'Stabs.'

I did not have enough points and needed either help or a module swap. Since I had a global criminal flag, I decided on calling in some help and one M34N (PvPGod) and one Hellequin (Muhaar) pilot answered the called. The Hulk was now moving around and had probably safe spotted. A hulk, however is a wonderful kill and worth the effort to hunt down.

Muhaar in his lachesis dropped scan probes while Pvp was in his deimos and hovered near a gate; ready to pounce.

The hulk pilot was good and managed to evade us and get into Gusandall, I was waiting in Gusandall on the gate but he appeared 47km from me. I was also under constant gate fire and couldn't tank forever.

'Target is in Gusandall. Tacklers move!" I said to the small fleet we had set up to give chase. The hulk warped away in the direction of two gates, both in line with each other. Pvp went to one, I went to other and we both came back empty handed. The hulk had not docked either. It was tantalizingly close on our scanners. The hulk pilot even had the sense to warn people in a local broadcast.
"Group of pirates in local hunting. BEWARE!" he said.
"No shit Sherlock." I replied in the same local broadcast. I kept on the scanner.
"He's gone back to auren gate. He's gone through. Chasing." That was Muhaar updating us. Pvp and I whipped our ships around, ignoring the sentry fire chewing into our shields and armour and turned towards Auren.
"He has stabs. We need at least two points." I said, gritting my teeth as I thought of the kill slipping away from me.
"Am in auren. Target is under gate cloak." Said Muhaar.
We might have a chance. I thought, if me and Pvp could get there quick enough. I landed at the gate and it instantly fired, hurling my ship through into the next system. I have to thank my XO for working hard in the background, ensuring mundane tasks like gate alignment and jump permission were done.
I exited and floated in space, some 6km from the gate and under gate cloak as well. The hulk, having arrived earlier than me or PvpGod should be de-cloaking now, the energy field enveloping his ship during his gate transit now dissipating. Muhaar also waited. Patient like a hawk.
The overview winked once and the hulk's gate induced invisibility, disappeared. It was exposed now but had the pilot aligned and was he moving? He was 23km from me, almost at the limit of my warp disruptor. I locked him. The targeting reticles flashing as the aging Minmater electronics tried to get a fix on the barge, which was now powering up. The reticle flashed and the became solid. My warp disruptor snapped on as I closed the distance.
"One point. " I said. Seconds later, I heard Muhaar and PvpGod confirm.
"One point."
"And mine. That's three points. It's locked down!" yelled Muhaar as we all closed on the doomed Hulk.
"Go for the kill. Ransom the pod. Kill the hulk." I said, my 425mm ACs spitting out emp shells at a frightening rate. His shields were tough but against a lachesis, a deimos and a hurricane, it could only withstand so much.

The Hulk burst apart, partly mined ore spraying out in all directions. The captain's pod instantly warped out, evading Muhaar's grasp. No matter. The kill was good. The loot was a bit disappointing for a hulk, there was a lot of standard tech 1 kit and only one of the tech 2 shield hardeners survived. The kill details are recorded here.

We congratulated each other on the kill, a tech 2 ship is always good.

Returning to Gusandall, I spotted a maelstrom and decided to investigate once my global flag had dissipated. The battleship was from an alliance known to us and KOS by us (which isn't?) and I approached it. Looming there, it sat near the gate back into Eifer. It was not moving, very little power was being registered by my ships scanners. It looked like the weapon's systems were offline. Could the pod captain be having trouble with relinking to his ship's systems?

I locked it to see if it provoked a reaction. It didn't.


"We have a maelstrom here at the gate. It appears that the pod captain is not responsive. Looks like a trap. Can we have some eyes in Eifer?"
"Sure thing. On my way." That was PvPGod again and he jumped into Eifer. A notorious kill zone. "I have a vagabond class in eifer within jump gate range to Gusandall. Pilot is miriablis." Indeed, a name well-known to us and in the same corp as our Maelstrom pilot. How convenient It looked like a trap but a Maelstrom and vagabond and sentry guns versus a hurricane and hyperion (Muhaar) and a deimos? I would give ourselves good odds. However, we were patient as we wanted to see what type of trap would be sprung.

Dogz appeared and after being appraised of the situation, declared that he was going in his BS and taking the fight to them. I was in my solo cane, an armour tanking beast and we all aligned. Dogz warped off towards the eifer gate and we waited.
"Engaged. Guns firing. Warp to me. Warp to me." Like a shot the rest of the ships accelerated and jumped to Dogz. The vagabond jumped in as well and it was unfortunately nominated as primary. PvPGod and I killed it.
The suddenly, the situation changed, very quickly. The gate fired repeatedly and now we saw more ships and all hostile. Our eyes in Eifer had already told us of the presence of a rook and as soon as we saw it, it was picked apart. Jubes barreled in with his cane while primary and secondary targets were called. Then the gate fired again and a new wave came in. Things got a bit confusing now but some of the fleet, thinking that the fight was ending were aligning to move out just in case more friends appeared. It looks like we were a touch too slow. Dogz's own typhoon was destroyed before the rook was taken out.

Not too sure if Dogz or I was chosen as primary but my cane held up very well. Until it finally was overwhelmed by the massed firepower against it. Red Alliance had made their appearance.

It looked like VOW took out Dogz while Red Alliance came for me.

The Maelstrom survived by the way.

++Second Hurricane loss. 15:36 Eve time++

So my first solo cane was lost, most hands were lost but I got my pod out. I had flown this hurricane for the last six months and it had a lot of good kills for me. Also lost my expensive rigs so my efficiency would be impaired. I grabbed the second solo cane, it was built similar to the first minus the rigs.

I was bored after undocking and not having enough action, the mornings encounter had whetted my appetite for more and so I sat idlying on a gate when I spied a thorax. Deciding that I wanted to have a go, I locked it. He locked me and we fired. A second thorax appeared and I had trouble punching through the armour of the first one. It was webbed and my guns were firing and the I realised I should have been using hail and not emp. Cursing my stupidity, I watched as the second thorax took a bite out of me and it's drones buzzed around me angrily. My armour was going down too fast. Way too fast, those thoraxes were tougher than I had expected. The first thorax popped finally but I was deep into my armour and hull breach was imminent. My reppers were running and DCU online as well. What the hell was happening?

The second thorax blasted my tech 2 fitted cane into small pieces.

Damn good job by the two Exceed pilots; I got my ass kicked.

++Madness! 22:21 EVE TIME++

So with nothing more to do, I was back in Gusandall and staring at my Black Flag fleet hurricane. A call came out over the joint operations channel we shared with M34N and Hellequin. There was a Typhoon class battle ship being tracked by us. We were asked to bring some DPS to the party. There never is enough DPS is there?

So we undocked a fleet of six ships, overkill for a single 'phoon certainly but we were hoping there would be more. We're pirates and not knights. Fair fights be damned unless arranged. The idea is to kill the enemy, not duel with them.

The Typhoon was quickly dispatched with the pilot surviving and then whining in the local broadcast. Pitiful. There are no fair fights in New Eden. Accept it.

There was a lot of traffic too and we had a feeling that someone was scouting us out. Call it a hunch. Sure enough, a typhoon had appeared and it smelt like a trap. It went to the top belt at planet 1. It was Dogz who sprung their trap. He went into the top belt in Eifer in his vagabond and was engaged by a typhoon. We jumped in and then all hell broke loose.

The Black Flag / M34N / Hellequin (pirate) fleet was made up of the following:
  • Vagabond
  • Hurricane
  • Damnation
  • Cyclone
  • Tempest
  • Sleipnir
  • Hurricane
From our records, the trap was sprung by a coalition of alliance ships made up from DoomGuard, Knights of the Red Sun and some non-aligned pilots. They were largely anti-pirates and were grim and determined to kill us all. In all they (anti-pirates) had:
  • Tempest
  • Vexor
  • Blackbird
  • Hurricane
  • Hurricane
  • Drake
  • Drake
  • Drake
  • Hyperion
An impressive array of firepower. We quickly targeted the tempest, piloted by Syntek Dominus, the one that was the bait and destroyed it.

1-0 to us.

However, the enemy quickly targeted Redbad's cyclone. It was thrown back and forth as missiles blasted off the shields, melting through into the armour.

"Redbad is down. Redbad is down."

The pirate captain successfully punching out from his destroyed ship. His crew not so lucky, most vapourising when the ships fusion reactors exploded.

1-1. A draw.

Viper Sam had joint lead on the operation and called out new primaries as both he and Grunanca's sleipnir were called as targets. Both ships facing the firepower of the anti-pirate fleet. Both Black Flag pilots tanked well enough for the pirate fleet to concentrate and destroy Don J's hyperion.

2-1 to the pirates.

The enemy's reply was instant and Dogz lost his vagabond to the drake's missiles and the damage from the typhoon early on.
"Dogz is down. Dogz is down." Came the vagabond pilot's statement, echoing through the fleet communication net.
"Coming back. Warping back to base. Keep some alive for me boys."

2-2. A draw again.

I targeted the killer of the vagabond when all my target locks were dropped. Assuming it was a glitch, I re-tasked the targeting computer to seek out the target and still it failed. Glancing up on the overview, I noticed two new ships: a vexor and a deadly blackbird-class cruiser.The feared Caldari cruiser, packed full of electronic warfare gear was a force multiplier. Already, other pilots were cursing and cries of frustration from the fleet as some pilots.
"Get the blackbird! The blackbird!" I cried as I lost my lock again. The drakes on my overview, all within optimal range of my hungry 425mm ACs, so tantalisingly close.
"Roger. Need to get a lock. Need a fucking lock!" Someone cursed.
"I have the blackbird." It was a confident statement from Deathstar. I was being pummeled senseless, red lights flashing warnings at me as my shields were failing. I ordered my camera drones out to wide view and saw the bird-like shape of Deathstar's Damnation pulse it's engines towards the blackbird. Deathstar was either un-noticed or managed to resist the ECM attack from the blackbird. Go Deathstar! Go! I thought to myself.
My aging targeting computer chirupped, once. The blackbird had lost it's jam on me - I was too far from it to fire my auto-canons but I did manage to send my ECM drones over to confuse the blackbird. Viper Sam did the same. ECM versus ECM and so shall it be. The blackbird cycled it's jammers and once more, I lost my lock. My drones, however, along with Viper Sam's had their last instructions and fired off their own jammers at the blackbird at the same time that Deathstar arrived and ripped the blackbird apart. The loss of the Blackbird was not un-noticed by the enemy and Deathstar's damnation was next with missile fire, rail gun shells and lasers streaking through the vacuum; cutting his ship to pieces.

3-3. Another draw.

I was next. The enemy were having no luck with Viper Sam's hurricane or Grunanca's Sleipnir. They were wasting their energies on trying to kill them. I was easier and my fleet cane, not designed for solo work rocked violently to one side as my starboard engines exploded in a shower of plasma.
"Damage report!" I ordered to my crew.
"Captain, engines three, four and five completely destroyed. We have hull breaches from decks three to nine. No response from engineering level."Shit. Deck four was where the ordnance was kept.
"Damage control parties to deck ten. Seal off all decks below level ten and vent the levels."
"Captain, we still have survivors. We need a few more minutes!"
"Vent all decks below level ten. Now." I had condemned over 500 good men to a vacuum-induced death as emergency doors blew open, jetting out men and material. It wasn't enough. Not by far. The enemy ships started to laser off chunks of my ship's infrastructure. My ship could not survive anymore of this. It was being taken apart around me. Reluctantly, I gave the order to abandon ship. My crew loyal to the end, stayed at their posts until the last minute.
"Flashfresh is down. Flashfresh is down."

3-4 to the enemy.

My pod was punched out. I lost all telemetry as explosive bolts blew then separated my pod from the ship. Automatic guidance system blasted my pod back to base, only one jump away.
"Keep some alive for me. I will back!" I yelled to my fleet mates. As my pod was making it's way back to the base, automatically activating the jump gates, the battle behind me receded.
"Scotty, get the next available ship ready for me."
"Sir, all you have is the Jaguar assault frigate. It will not survive the gate guns. You are still flagged."
"Flag be damned! Make ready my ship!" I docked and did a quick switch, my surviving crew from the fleet hurricane were still making their way back to base from the battlefield. I wonder how many survived this time round.?

I returned to fray, all the pirate fleet were still intact, though the enemy fleet was now in a bad way. All were close to armour damage, their shield systems close to exhaustion.
"Flashfresh requesting permission to re-enter the line."
"Permission granted. Primary is Eldante. He has a tough shield system."
"Roger. Primary is Eldante." I replied as I switched my weapon systems onto the drake-class battlecruiser. It's shield system was immense but it was dying. I added my 150mm T2 auto-canons to the fight - spitting out EMP rounds that were designed to destroy shield systems.
"Eldante is going down. He is going down!"
"Roger that. Maintain fire. Watch your neighbours." Eldante's drake shuddered as it's shield systems overloaded and blew and sparked out. Our EMP-based rounds, so easily absorbed by the shields now ate into thin armour. Caldari ships were not known for their armour and Eldante's drake blew into a thousand pieces. I snagged Eldante's pod and blew his body to small organic chunks. The pirate fleet were having the upper hand, our controlled firing and discipline were beginning to tell. The enemy hurricane fell quickly, as did the second drake and then the third drake. The vexor managed to snag my jaguar with his drones before he too died.

As my pod punched out, I warped back, once again to my hangar and grabbed the last remaining ship: a nano-rupture. I was going back to the fray and not leaving my fleet mates on their own. Once again, the gate guns fired on me as I passed through their automatic sights. However, on arrival, I patched back into the fleet communication net. It appeared that the last drake managed to escape, much to our chagrin. The battlefield was ours and we had the pickings of the loot and salvage rights.

Total ship count was as follows.

Pirate ships lost: Damnation, Vagabond, Hurricane, Cyclone and Jaguar.
Enemy ships lost: Drake, Drake, Drake, Hyperion, Typhoon, Vexor, Blackbird and Hurricane. The battlefield was littered with wrecks, spluttering and sparkling. Redbad was there looting and salvaging.

Loot was a nice mix of T2 and named mods all now heaped up in the Black Flag loot hangar; the spoils to be shared out at later date. The pirates had prevailed this time but am sure DoomGuard would be licking its wounds and would be back soon. We would be ready. Bring it on. The loot is so good, we want more.