"Flash! Set up and FC a fleet!" Came the call from some pirates who were trying to chase after some anti-pies. All were residents of the Independence channel so I counted them as colleagues and friends. So I found myself in charge of yet another 11 ship fleet and mixed one at that with Hellequin, The Bastards, M34N, TSL and one Kane Rizzel, the baddest solo pirate in New Eden.
The evening for me started with a ping-pong of intel-reports about an enemy gang in Eifer. Just as the pilots were checking themselves into the fleet interface, ship dispositions and intelligence reports updated themselves on my GUI. From what I could glean from the cacophony of reports and shouts, we were facing a small roaming fleet made up of a hurricane, myrmidon, jaguar and possible one or two stealth bombers.
Our mixed pirate gang, unlike the Black-Flag gangs took some time to get into the groove but to be honest, this bunch I have flown with before and within a few extra minutes we had all logged onto the Black-Flag secured communications server and performing voice-checks. Only WayCharles was outside of this communication server, instead he used a simple terminal to communicate to the group.
It was WayCharles who gave the fleet some cheer.
[-WayCharles here. I have a probe hit on the hurricane. Warping in to tackle - I think I have cracked it's safe spot-]
"Roger that WC." I glanced at the fleet map that plotted the fleet's ship locations. I zoomed in and started to move the ships into position. Some of fleet were docked; some were one or two systems away. I had to get them all together.
"Z0de and RoninD, move into Gusandall and hold cloak on the inbound gate."
"Roger that," replied the two bastards.
"Kane here. Am at Eifer gate already." Good old Kane. Wily and smart as per usual, he needed no prompting and had already anticipated my next request.
"All pilots - sound off, maintain voice discipline. Now I want everyone's status."
"Zonk here. Docked and ready."
"Uma here. Docked and ready in Domi."
"Gwendonline here. In Ishtar in orbit outside station."
"Kerjin here -"
"Huginn in Gusandall! Engaging!" Interrupted Kane as he moved in. I ordered more ships to assist Kane but the huginn escaped. Things were moving fast.
"All ships - rendezvous at the Eifer gate in Gusandall. Best speed." I also sent out an automated fleet command to all ships. We tried to get ready but as the fleet assembled, we realised that the enemy fleet had a cloaked pilot directly above the Eifer gate in Gusandall who watched our ever move. We were rumbled as the fleet took up positions on the gate. We had WayCharles on the other side as a scout but it wasn't enough. Like ghosts, the anti-pie fleet disappeared with a whisper.
Grumbling, the pirates wanted more kills and I agreed.
"Z0de, move to Ingunn; RoninD, move to Hrondredir; Kerjin - Sotr. Keep your eyes open for new targets."
My attention was then caught by a blinking, incoming message notification. I opened it up and realising it's implications, I had to drop out of the fleet. Toggling the fleet chat I spoke up.
"Fleet - Flash is dropping out of command. Kane is now in command until I come back or he get's sick of it."
"Roger that Flash. See you soon."
Grab that cane! 45 minutes shot by and I was back in the hurricane and undocking. I re-integrated into the fleet and quickly digested the most recent intelligence reports. There appeared to be a POS under attack in Hrondredir, the owner of the POS was red to Black-Flag and to others in the fleet but the attackers were our focus. WayCharles and Kerjin were there, in system and feeding back reports. However WayCharles still wasn't fully integrated in the fleet voice communications and was firing off terse text based reports back.
"Kane. Flash has command of fleet. Update please."
"Flash - we have a POS under attack in Hrond'. The owner of the POS is asking for help and we're organising ourselves. We have eyes in WC as he is in system. The POS owner is a pilot called 'Xxar' and he is asking for permission to join the voice server. I believe there is a carrier or dread there. Would be a nice kill. The target corporation is Jion Keanturi."
"Roger that Kane. Thanks."
"Flash, one other thing."
"We need Xxar to adjust standings at the POS - otherwise, we'll be shot at by the POS weapons alongside the attackers."
"Okay - good point Kane, bring him into the voice server and get this done."
"Roger that. Will be tricky with a mixed gang that we have...." I left Kane to organise the invite of this new pilot, Xxar. A quick check revealed that he was red to Black-Flag and quite possibly to everyone else in the fleet! Pirates, we may be bastards but we're pragmatic too. There was a garbled message from WC, sent over the terminal. I read and re-read it. WayCharles could hear my voice but not speak back in return.
"Resend again WayCharles. Resend ship types please."
[....am cloaked but there's a raven, mega, mega, phoenix.....]
The terminal scrolled across my vision; the ships attacking the POS numbered two battle cruiser class ships, seven battle ship class and one dread and / or carrier. The report was short and to the point but I needed pilot names to go with the ships. Additionally, I was still busy trying to get the fleet to update their status. It felt like herding cats. Wild, nasty, hissing cats armed with weapons at that.
"What's the plan Flash?" asked RealZonk.
"Yeah, what are doing? Going after them POS bashers?" queried Z0de.
"All pilots report in, ships and status."
I had to see what we could bring to the party. As the fleet pilots reported back, the gang eventually comprised of three battle ship class vessels, four battle cruisers, one heavy assault ship and whatever WC was in. A bit light on damage but it was all we had but it would have to do. Against us, would be at least ten enemy ships, seven which were battle ships and one capital class ship - we would be hard pressed to succeed but a plan was forming.
"OK fleet listen up. Situation: there's a fleet attacking a POS in Hrondredir. The attacking fleet at the POS is designated as target ALPHA. We will need to knock out their main damage dealers so the megathron's go first. According to WC's intel, we have two: Keiler's megathron is primary then Kaito Rei's megathron is secondary. We do a hit and run, under cover of the POS fire."
I glanced at Xxar's avatar and asked, "Xxar - have you set friendly standings to us? We're going to be hard pressed taking this guys without your POS firing on us..."
Xxar didn't reply - maybe he was busy. I didn't wait for a reply.
"Roger that Flash."
"Aye, aye sir."
"Let's do it." I grinned at the bravado and balls of these pirates as I continued.
"Then we micro warp drive and get the fuck out, pick two new targets and warp back in. WC will provide the warp in points. Quick and easy."
"Yeah, sounds good boss. Let's do it!". I could feel the blood thirst building. WayCharles sent another update to me, the text scrolling across slowly - the equivalent of someone flashing a light and using morse-code. Well done that man WayCharles for having the patience!
[POS is now in reinforced. POS is now in reinforced.]
Shit. With the POS now in reinforced mode, the ships would be dis-engaging. We had to hurry.
"The POS is in siege-mode. I think the POS attacking fleet is breaking up." I said, things were moving fast again.
"All ships: undock and meet at the Hrondredir gate in Gusandall. Undock NOW."
Release clamps popped as my hurricane rumbled out of space dock and I angled the ship towards the gate. Systems checks came back all green and I set the ship to red alert. It was time to rumble, only four ships were at the gate, ready. Where were the others?
"All ships: rendevous at the Hrondredir gate in Gusandall, goddamnit."
"Undock! Undock! Undock!" yelled RoninData in exasperation.
It took another two minutes for all the ships to meet up outside the gate. The fleet had two more in station, frantically refitting ships.
"Remaining ships: you have two minutes to refit and join us." We couldn't afford to wait any longer and I quickly made a head count. The fleet numbered eight, nine including WayCharles in Hrondredir.
Name: WayCharles Corp: Mean Corp Ship: ++Classified++
However, as I was busy communicating with WayCharles and Xxar - a shadow loomed above my hurricane.....
A plan never survives contact with reality...
"Shit. Rokh here," said Kane. I glanced up at the GUI just in time to see the tell-tale sign of a gate fire. "It's gone. Flash - we need to move. He's going to rumble us to that fleet." My mind was flying at 100 miles per hour. Options raced through my mind, Kane was right. I had to act decisively as the fleet was waiting to go. The die had already been rolled for us. Time to act. We were all like attack dogs, straining at the leash.
Once I made the decision, I felt calm.
"Fleet, this is command. Jump into Hrondredir. Primary is the Rokh. We can not afford for it to warn the fleet at the POS!" I added, " I hope he isn't in the same corp as ALPHA - so we might be lucky."
"Jumping." Chorused the fleet, no trace of fear in anyone's voice. The multiple flashes of several gate activations seared into my eyes as I was pulled through into Hrondredir. As soon as my ship materialised in Hrondredir, I de-cloaked and hunted for the Rokh. It was already de-cloaked but was only 19km from me, below and the left. With a hiss, the warp disruptor snapped on as my target lock resolved.
"Rokh pointed. We need to kill it now before it can warn the others."
Flashfresh: for your illegal and hostile actions, the Minmatar republic will exact swift and terrible retribution.
The automatic warning flashed across my GUI as I engaged in hostile actions. Who cares? All around me, the fleet were recieving identical messages as the sentry guns spun up and opened fire on us for the illegal weapons discharges. We had to be quick. Fighting under sentry fire in a hurricane was not fun.
The Rokh pilot did not broadcast anything in local as he got pointed and the scrambled and then blasted.
"Shit. 43km from the Rokh...." grumbled someone, it sounded like Redbad, obviously too far away to make an immediate impact.
"It's going down."
The Rokh was ripped apart as our eight ships blasted it to scrap. Not many of his crew managed to escape. The victim was Jayton Dowerty from TAWD Research and Building Corporation. We missed his pod. Even before the Rokh was dead, I flipped open the scanner and found that there were ships incoming. My proximity alert squawked soon after.
"Fleet: prepare for incoming!"
My overview exploded with two red flashing blinking ships. The first ship was a cyclone, then an abaddon alongside it. More were on their way. We wanted a fight and by heck we had one. Not ideal, with the sentry guns against us but what the hell. I gave the order.
"Primary is Gammarus in the Abaddon.Primary is Gammarus in the Abaddon." A megathron then appeared, joined by a raven and another megathron. I had to focus. Already, our fleet were locking and firing on Gammarus' Abaddon, the golden-hued ship shuddering as artillery, missiles and hybrid shell slammed into it. Then in response, they turned on us. The space between our ships were filled with lethal ordnance. We were hopeless mixed up with the enemy ships. There was very little in clean formations here. It was a dog-fight.
"Secondary is Keiler. Get ECM drones on it. Kane: point it!"
"Redbad going down. Redbad going down."
I glanced over to my port side and saw that Red's mighty Maelstrom was jetting out fuel and atmosphere, it's hull breaking up as juggernaut torpedoes slammed deep into his ship's innards. One of our fleet's main damage dealers was already out of the fight. Gammarus and his abaddon buckled under our combined fire and it disappeared in a lovely flash of light and sound. We switched to the new primary.
"Primary is Keiler. Secondary is Kaito Rei. ECM drones on Keiler. Zode - point Kaito Rei."
"Too late boss, Z0de is down. Z0de is down."
The enemy fleet finally had all their ships on us and the tide was turning on us.
"The megathron is going down!" It sounded like Kane or RoninD, Keiler's mighty megathron was on fire from front to back. Unable to tank our damage. It's explosion rocked my ship, however I was next - I wasn't too sure who hit me but one second my ship was in existence, next I was down to hull and my crew racing to their escape pods. Then the final hammer blow: the phoenix turned up.
The megathron was very nicely fitted and since it was set up to take down a POS it concentrated on damage and tanking. Forget speed and support. Pure gank.
They kicked our arses... I popped and was spat out in my pod and into the maelstrom of space under fire. Kane was still present and he was made FC as I moved to a safe distance. However, the fight shifted against us inexorably. I suffered a crash in my pod software and was blind for the outcome, but at least I managed to warp out. However, I did get a chance to read the kill mails. Once I got back online and into the fleet again, I docked and prepared to get into a second hurricane but everyone had docked up.
It was clear that we had suffered a defeat. Our fleet was set up to take down one or two of the enemy ships when they were sieging at a POS. We wanted to have the POS guns on our side and use speed. However, the situation was reversed and we ended up fighting under sentry fire against a battle ship heavy gang, set up for damage dealing and tanking; the phoenix arriving didn't help matters either. We had no support or EWAR to balance things out. If only we had a falcon or two on our side!
Still a great fight against three corporations and not one as I first thought. They were Jion Keanturi, KBS Syndicate and TAWD Research and Building Corporation.
The Rokh we tackled at the gate was with TAWD Research and Building Corporation.
My thoughts.... Should I have given the order to engage? The sudden presence of the Rokh and the POS entering siege mode were crucial turning points in my view. The Rokh forced us to attack but we should have moved faster, I should have moved faster and got the fleet together. Attacking the same ships above, while they were sieging the POS and thereby under POS fire would have evened the odds somewhat. Certainly, warping on top of the megathrons, taking it out and then getting back out would have been more effective than fighting them at the gate. The sentry fire we were all under did not help matters either.
Have to congratulate all the pilots involved but especially Kane for his cool-headedness, RoninD for being a crazy bastard of a pirate who I enjoy flying very much and WayCharles for great intel.
Next time - we know the enemy fleet will be back to finish off the POS in another 19 hours.....