20 Mar 2008

Holy Mother of ECM

"Fucking about time." I said to the station maintenance guys, all now avoiding my gaze.
I was locked out of my entire floor due to a break down in the identity card system. So for the last week, I found myself sleeping in my docked ship of all places while the slow wheels of bureaucracy and maintenance cranked through. In short, I was out of contact with nearly everyone for a week.

Once I was back in circulation, I noticed that I had several messages from other pirates. Many who, while not actively at war with Black-Flag, were red to us. These included 'The Bastards' to name one. A decent bunch of competent pirates based in Brin. We've tangled with them before and will have another fun encounter in the future am sure.

Anyway, several messages from them to me. I opened them all and contacted the pirates, wary at giving away too much. Talking to RoninData and General Coochie, I rapidly caught up with the most recent events: a large, anti-pirate force was moving between Eifer and Evati and had camped a number of gates throughout the last few days. The Bastards had fought them and then, eventually got overwhelmed by them but only recently. No capital ships were involved this time but it sounded like the successful application of overwhelming force by the carebears.

Nevermind, no fights are ever equal and The Bastards have vowed to fight back tooth and nail; our conversation was purely pirate-to-pirate, under the idea of 'an enemy of my enemy, if my friend'. Fair enough I thought and I attempted to contact other Black-Flag pilots. A few were around and I got in contact with them, appraising them of the situation. They did not have the ill-fortune to bump into this anti-pie camp and by all accounts, this group had now dispersed.

I opened up my intelligence channels and once I made contact, new information began to flow in.
I needed to hunt. The various accents, Caldari, Gallente, Minmater and even Amarr buzzed through the room as my sources reported back to me.

"One caracal-class cruiser ratting in Klogori, pilot is in State War Academy, name is..."

"A brutix from 'Roids 'R' Us' jumping from Rokofur into Arnstur....."

"A missioning Raven in Evati, name of pilot is......"

"Lobster Man in Hyperion engaged near station by members of PAK....."

"Mining operation in - " I muted the intelligence channel and went back to the previous thread.
There was an engagement in Ingunn between a hyperion piloted by Lobster Man, Metafarmers against two rapiers, a claymore, a vagabond and a stabber. The latter group appeared to be from PAK (Red Republic) and I wanted revenge. They took me out a few weeks ago and I wanted to repay some of them, the same favour.

I rallied the troops and formed up a fleet, Krypt, Nova and Snake from Black-Flag were available and started fitting ships. Ever dependable Krypt was already out in his vagabond and into Ingunn just to get some eyes on the action - nothing like first hand intelligence from someone you trust. The fleet continued to be put together, with everyone joining the Black-Flag ventrilo server. Muhaar and some Hellequin pilots were already in the server and were already in a larger fleet. I quickly dissolved the fleet and merged the gangs together.

I asked for a break down of points and webs in the fleet. It was a mix of 50/50 with a nice mix of DPS. We had no ECW with us and only one vagabond as anti-support. This skew in fleet make-up would be our undoing. The ships all gathered at the Ingunn gate in Gusandall and Sotrenzur, meanwhile Krypt was targeted by the fast gang but he managed to escape with no problems.

50freefly joined us in his dominix and jumped into Ingunn moving towards the station in Ingunn as bait and sure enough - he was eventually surrounded by the previously identified ships. We all warped into the system but on immediate hostile contact, the enemy ships started to move away. The claymore, rapier, vagabond and others were all speed fitted and we failed to catch any one of them. We didn't have enough webs in the right place to get them. A local scan also revealed a large number of other ships and from sifting through the intelligence, we assumed that the claymore, two rapiers, vagabond and stabber were one gang. A second gang made up of a x2 caracals, x2 thorax, x1 raven and x1 kestrel.

"Okay guys, we can't catch those guys. Nano fitted for speed and we're all too slow to chase after them." I said.

"Let's roam!" Said 50FreeFly and the fleet agreed, though there were a few who had to drop out. I decided on the destination.

"Set destinations to Skarkon. All ships, you have five minutes to refit and refresh. Rendevous at the Kat gate in Sotrenzur," I said and prepped my ship to dock up and switch some mods. "You all have ten minutes, so make it happen." Five minutes later, I was ready to undock and make myself towards the salvage area.

"I've just been tackled by an ares-class interceptor," said Nova, sounding a bit angry at himself for having being busted by some random prober. After all, he was trying to find other people, not the other way round. "A falcon has also decloaked and has jammed me."

"Nova. Mwd towards the falcon, full speed. All other pilots align to Nova, prepare to warp to Nova." In the back of my mind, I was already worried - I suspected that the falcon was not the prober nor would the ares-class interceptor; there must be a third ship close to Nova, a covert-ops perhaps? Also, one does not drop a tackler onto a target unless you have the ships to make the kill. More were coming and both Nova and I were sure of this. We had to be quick.

"Roger that." Replied Nova.

"Zonk and Flashfresh: warp to Nova. Primary is the falcon."

"Roger - warping."

I warped towards Nova's speeding hurricane. I turned on my micro warp drive and pursued the falcon. I was instantly jammed.

"Flashfresh jammed. Pursuing the falcon." With three ships burning towards the falcon, we had a good chance that we would take advantage of one failed jam cycle and then kill the falcon. Or get so close to the falcon that the pilot would panic and warp away anyway.

"Zonk jammed. Pursuing the falcon. 38km away."

"Nova here. Jammed but 24km away." Nova was the closest and was practically on top of him when the falcon turned and hit it's micro warp drive.

"Good job guys - let's get this inty..." I stopped as there was the tell-tale star burst of incoming ships.

"Contact. Contact. Contact. Another falcon." I paused as my eyes scanned the rapidly increasing and scrolling overview. "Add two blackbirds and shit, two rapiers."

"Ships disengage. Those enroute. Cancel the route. It's a trap."

I hit the microwarp drive to get some distance but the two rapiers, with a set of webbers I suspect (at least two probably three webbers) locked me, Zonk and Nova. We were stuck fast like flies in Amber. The first falcon came back and joined the other two blackbird and the second falcon. We were then jammed and scrambled as the remaining ships all jumped in. There was a right mix of ships: eagle, hound, zealot, stiletto, caracal etc - and all from different corporations too.

50FreeFly and Muhaar were already in warp to us and they too were trapped. It was a horrible situation. In all the number of enemy ships finally included:


Just before I went down, I heard 50freefly say, "Holy mother of ECM!"

Oh I agree.

Tactical Analysis.

Could we have done better?

Very difficult to say, as soon as the falcon ran - we were going to knock out or chase off the ares (either via firepower or through the ecm drones) and then warp out. Instead, the rest all piled in and had us. Our gang was a significant size, though scattered amongst a number of different systems as we were all preparing to rendezvous for a trip to L4X-1V. We were caught too early and scattered. The fight was not on our terms so we got spanked. Fair play to them.

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