Swinging out of my chair, the latest administrative work now completed for the Independence bar I decided to open up my intelligence channels and see what was going on. Like most pod pilots, there is a constant buzz and hum from dozens and dozens of communication channels drip feeding information, greetings and down-right slander to me. I made contact with each of the channels and mentally opened up the special communications implant that allowed the information to flow in. Once contacted, it feels like a cold needle flashing through your brain, for those uninitiated with implantation, new information began to flow in.
I needed to hunt. The various accents, Caldari, Gallente, Minmater and Amarr buzzed through my head once more as my sources reported back to me.
"Samuel4: Small mining operation in Dal, no escorts, pilot id are..."
"Kerjin: Vexor in belt - probably bait - going in........"
"Agent332: Rifter from Fleet Academy on a shake down cruise in Eifer with a newly qualified egger at the helm: coordinates are....."
I muted the intelligence channel and went back to the previous thread.
What was Kerjin doing in one of my communications channels? I re-spooled the conversation and replayed it, muting the rest. A quick scan showed me that Kerjin was in M34N corporation, meaning he was blue to Black-Flag! Such is life.
He had jumped in and had tackled the vexor but then the communications link was severed. A few pilots in the Independence channel were also available and also listening in and Capt Nessaja, ex-TSL and now with New Orion Underground offered to help. Meanwhile, I had a fleet running with me and Lucius Cain - he was back and pondering his next move in New Eden but couldn't resist a bit of wanton killing and destruction. He was in a rapier.
I decided to bring in more pilots and combine the fleets. Since I had fleet command, I might as well get the ball rolling. I went to the Independence channel and announced that I needed some help. I also flicked on the communicate tab and fired off a request to all pilots in the majority of the communications channels who were available.
In all, I had six pilots and Kerjin also answered the call, making the number up to seven. I wanted an update from all the pilots, especially Kerjin.
"Got the Vexor down to structure," said Kerjin, his image breaking up as he weaved his ship in and out of hostile fire. "Then a blackbird came in and jammed me. Nothing I could do. Had to bail."
"Roger that Kerjin. You safe?"
"Yessir. Safe and cloaked." Good man. I acknowledged the undocking request as my jaguar-class assault frigate slid out into space. Somewhere out there was Lucius Cain in his rapier.
"All fleet pilots: listen up. We have marks in Evati. Vexor, Blackbird and two ravens on a mission. All fleet pilots move to Todi' and hold. Kerjin, please stay cloaked in Evati and observe traffic. All pilots acknowldge and present current status please."
"Lucius Cain here. In rapier and en route to Evati."
"Kerjin. Cloaked and holding. "
"Capt. Nessaja. In drake and en route to Evati."
"Darthimus. In Harbringer and en route to Evati."
"Prediction Pain reporting. Just clone-jumped, will be in falcon and 4-jumps from Evati."
"Blade reporting. In Dominix and en route to Evati."
"XXX reporting. In helios and en route to Evati."
"Flashfresh reporting. In Jaguar and en route to Evati."
I made the jumps to the gate ahead of the main gang and went into Evati, the local communication channel updated itself and I got a good look at all registered pod pilots. Four were red. It was unknown whether they were together. Evati was a mess of ships and scanning was difficult. No matter.
"Luc, XXX and PP - come to Evati to probe please. All other ships, hold at gate."
There was a chorus of affirmations as we got ready. Meanwhile, local chat was updating itself with the broadcasted messages of the pilots and it was clear that the blackbird was now destroyed with the vexor escaping. There was a new player in town.
"We have two ruptures and one, maybe two rapiers here on my scanner. They were close to where the BB and Vex were. Working together?" Wondered Kerjin aloud.
"One of the rapiers is me," hissed Lucius. Sifting through the intelligence and coming up with a plan was tricky but it was clear that Corstadd, SunStr0ke and Crulos were together. The latter two in rapiers with Costadd in a rupture. The fourth pilot, Nithon, and based on the task of elimination was in the second rupture. There was also a dominix-class battleship so calling in Blade would balance this out. It was unclear whether this identified Dominix was part of the group of four. Smart gangs would split themselves up, reducing the potential loss in ships if they get discovered.
"Negative - they're not working together, Blackbird and vexor popped. New hostiles in Evati." Replied PP.
"Scanning for new targets, the ravens have moved. " Said XXX, our second and at this moment, secret scan prober.
"Okay change of plan. Nessaja - you're bait. Go to III-1; PP and Luc and Kerjin will be with you, cloaked so you will not be alone." I tried to sound reassuring.
"Roger that Flash. Warping to III-1."
"Darth and Blade: hold in Todi. No need to show our hands just yet."
"Roger. Holding in Todi," said Blade, answering for both him and Darth. Nessa warped into the belt and waited. I kept my scanner pinging ahead and was alert for any changes. It was XXX who chimed in.
"I have Corstaad's safe spot!" Good job I thought. "Corstaad is in rupture and moving at speed, not aligned to anything."
"Kerjin - warp to XXX and tackle. Luc - assist in your rapier. Everyone else - hold please."
This was now perfect. If we tackled and snagged the rupture; there was a good chance that his gang mates would come in to assist - then we would close the trap on them. The tension was mounting as Luc and Kerjin raced to the rupture.
"Exiting warp in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -"
"Approaching exit in 3 seconds, right behind you Kerjin -"
"Rupture pointed! Closing to optimal -"
The tension was mounting for everyone else, I could now see all three ships on my scanner. They had not been joined by others yet.
"Do not pod the pilot. Web and scramble him." I said, it would be perfect. The pilot, horribly exposed in his pod would no doubt inform his mates to come rescue him.
"Rupture is going down -" there was a burst of static, "- it's down. It's down."
"Get the pod." I reminded Luc and Kerjin.
"Shit." It sounded like Kerjin. "Sorry. Missed it."
"Damn." There goes our best chance.
Still it was a good kill and the night was still young. Had to go back to the original plan.
"Okay. Nessaja - you're up. Bait once more. Go to 3-1 and look pretty. Luc, PP and Ker - assume cloaked holding positions above Nessaja. Darth and Blade - hold position in Todi."
"Goddamnit. I want to use these new pulse lasers!" Complained Darthimus. I sympathised but we had to be patient.
It didn't take long for the drake to prove to be a tasty morsel and soon Nithon in his rupture engaged it.
"Nessaja here. Contact. Contact. Contact. Nithon in his rupture. Engaging."
"Flash? What next?" Asked PP. I quickly went through the possibilities in my head. A single drake should be able to take the rupture, but we had to make it quick enough to spook the ruppie pilot in asking for help.
"Kerjin - de-cloak and engage ruppie."
"Shit. This ruppie is fast." Observed Nessaja. That made up my mind to get Lucius into the fight.
"Luc, de-cloak and web the ruppie."
"Roger that," replied Luc as his ship dropped it's cloak and entered the fight.
"Contact! Contact! Second rapier in belt!" Yelled Kerjin. "Third rapier! Third rapier!"
It was time to drop the hammer.
"PP - decloak - and jam both rapiers. Darth and Blade, enter Evati and warp to Nessaja."
"GO! GO! GO!" Exhorted PP.
"Fleet targets: Points as follows: Darth and Flash: Nithon in rupture. Luc and PP: SunStr0ke. Nessa, Blade and Kerjin: Crulos. Keep an eye for that Dom. PP, you will need to jam that Dom instead of the rapiers if it jumps in as well. "
I entered the fight and was in a mess of ECM drones - they were swarming around PP's Falcon, I locked Nithon in his rupture while Darthimus roared in alongside me, pulse lasers lancing out.
"Shit. Am primary! Jammed. Am warping out." Said PP, as the falcon streaked out.
"Darth, maintain fire on Nithon. Luc and Kerjin- get SunStr0ke. Blade and Nessaja - you have points on the Crulos?"
"Negative. Down to 50% shield. Hurry and kill these fookers!" Shouted Nessaja. A rapier came close to me - about 14km and zipped through, it's micro warp drive flaring. It had webbed someone on our side, I couldn't tell. It too was webbed, most likely by Lucius.
Hammerhead drones screamed past me - intent on another target; luckily not me. I snapped on on webber and disruptor on Nithon's rupture. It was tough, probably fitted with a plate but it burst apart pretty quickly even so. Even before it died, I was ready.
"Darth and Nessaja - hit your mwds and chase SunStr0ke in his rapier." By this time PP had come back and had also targeted Sunstr0ke.
"He's webbed and pointed and jammed."
I was 67KM from him. Crulos appeared to warp out, escaping the clutches of Blade and Darthimus.
"They're bugging out. Just Sunstr0ke here. Kill him quick."
Before I got to 24km, the rapier burst open and Sunstr0ke was in his pod, but like any experienced pilot - he managed to warp away and save the pod.
"Did we get the second rapier?" I asked. No one was sure.
"OKAY loot up and safe up. Good job guys. Good job. No sign of the other Domi?"
"We can assume it's not with these guys!"Stated PP.
It was good fight, split over a wide area.
The kill mails are here:
The First Rupture kill.
The Second Rupture Kill.
The First Rapier Kill.
Just had to add this in....
After Hours 20: Alan Mathison - After Hours Episode 20 with Alan Mathison is now available HERE. We discuss all things Exoplantary in perhaps the nerdiest After Hours so far. Project Di...
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