Viper Sam came back into Gusandall, still possessing the same commanding presence but he looked and sounded tired and drawn. Some serious issues I guess that he was working hard on. Running any form of corporation or gang is hard especially if the majority of pilots are bent on mayhem and destruction and like addicts, they will get their fix from anywhere they can. Going cold turkey is not an option.
However having the CEO back, even for a short period was welcomed, especially by me. The killboard and forum were back, probably only temporarily but back nonetheless. This allowed some of the more prolific pirates to post their kills once more. However, these are band-aids. nothing more.
In truth, I can not help feel that the atmosphere in Black-Flag had altered in his absence. A number of ideas and rumours had been floated and some had taken root. Gone was the swagger and confidence that the future was ours for the taking. Shattered was the belief that we, as a group, was better at achieving goals than other organisations. The realisation that our goal was now out of reach for many of the pilots meant that our upward trajectory slowed, stopped and then came crashing back down to earth.
Our CEO had a vision, a vision so huge that not many in the corp could take over in his absence; we would all follow but not take the lead, including myself.
Even though Sam is now back, there is now inertia within the group. A restlessness that for many can only overcome by a change in leadership or scenery. No one wants to step up for fear of being labelled a usurper nor is Sam indicating that he wants to hand over the leadership role, at least not immediately. He has stated that he wants to take a more laid back role now. The drive in the last six months in creating a new corporation from scratch has seen it's frustrations and setbacks and no doubt, this has left everyone with some scars. Some came to me and asked if I could take over and I refused. I joined up to follow Sam and not usurp him. To some, the proposed course of action would have smacked as mutiny.
Besides, I am too busy in other projects to make a decent job of it. Other senior members were approached as well and there was general frustration at not getting things done. Ever the philosopher; my take is that when you are reaching for the stars, even if you fail, at least you're still flying.
The departure of a number of our pirates was therefore an inevitability.
Tor Lann left first, slipping away after clearing his hangar. Then Marovinchian switched corps and joined up with our neighbours, M34N corp. He came out with us last night and it took me a few minutes to suss out that he was in a different corporation now! Only recently, one of the mates of the ship, Ndor - sent a farewell note to all and left as well. The bleeding of the blood of the corp is sad to see but what can be done? The ship is still sound but the crew are leaving and seeking new opportunities. Who can blame them?
Practically, what can one do? I intend to stay with Black-Flag. Hell, I will turn the lights out if required. Losing Tor, Maro and Ndor has hurt. Am prepared for more pain but my desire (as is Sam's) is to see Black-Flag emerge stronger from this. If not, then for the remaining core of the corp preserved and shepherded to another corp. They would be a massive asset to any of the local groups. Otherwise, in the limbo we're in, we'll likely bleed to death. A death of a thousand cuts and gashes.
What we need now is to re-engage with the basics and for me that is small roaming gangs in the Black-Flag Fleet Hurricane. A whole fleet of these hurricanes, roaring through space. Our focus being on developing small-gang PvP prowess. Not in POS warfare, or Capital fleets. Small mobile gang PvP FTW!
The hunt As I was pondering this (and fate was obviously listening) - Sarvic sent out a distress call for assistance and soon, we had five Black-Flag pilots all vectoring into Sarvic's position. He was being hunted and was alone, for now. Some anti-pirates had set up a camp on either side of the Gusandall gate in Eifer and Sarvic was adamant that he was going to go toe-to-toe with them, solo if required. As I passed through into Arnstur, I bumped into a gate camp of two: a broadsword and a dominix. I was quickly scrambled by the HIC but not yet webbed so I hit my micro warp drive and powered away from the pair at a steady 1250 metres per second and soon left them behind.
Within a minute, all other pilots were assembled and in position inside Gusandall - all aligned to the Eifer gate. Black-Flag prides itself on good small gang tactics and this manifested itself in economical chat on the voice server and battle ready ships. We didn't need to check and re-check if we had the right ships or ammo. We just knew this was the case. We didn't need to give the latest chat server details to each other or any other nonsense, it was down to business.
"Black-Flag. Ship status please." I said, tuning in all pilots.
"Jorge here. One point. One web"
"Snake reporting. One point."
"Huaca. No point. Shit load of DPS."
"Sarvic. One point."
"Flash here. No point. One web." I said finishing off the report. "Sarvic. We're in position - what do you have?"
"Sarvic here. Am jumping around in Eifer at the moment but we have four hostiles here in Eifer with at least one maybe two in Gusandall. Two vagabond, two ishtar and BS and probably more in Emolgranlan. Mainly from the Red Tides corporation but they also work with neutrals."
"Roger that. Fighting them at a planet or belt would be best but we'll take them on the gate if we have to. We'll just have to deal with sentry fire that's all. No big deal, same old shit. Just another day."
"We have enough to take these fools." Said Sarvic and this was greeted with a chorus of agreement.
"There's an ishtar on the Eifer gate in gusandall. He'll probably tackle you Sarvic. We'll knock him out and take on the rest." Suggested Snake.
"Gate guns or no. Let's do it." Urged Huaca.
"OK Sarvic - come on back into Gusandall. Everyone else, undock and align to Eifer gate. Warm up the guns my beauties."
I was already aligned and when the signal was given, I warped towards the gate. Sarvic jumped and proceeded to point the waiting Red Tides ishtar, then complained that he was having GUI problems and disconnected. The ishtar was there, waiting for Sarvic but switched to me. I webbed the ishtar and proceeded to get hit by sentry fire.
"Ishtar has been webbed. Someone point the fecker! Sarvic just crashed out! Primary is 'Trusword'."
"Snake pointing the ishtar."
There were two more flashes as the gate fired again.
"Contact. Contact. Two more reds. Two more vagabonds. And one more Ishtar. Secondary is Joe's Load. Secondary is Joe's Load. Keep an eye on those vagas."
Huaca and Jorge had arrived and proceeded to pound on the primary. Sarvic was coming back online, his voice comms came on with a hiss. He sounded pissed.
"Goddamnit. The capsule lost all telemetry and my 'cane emergency warped out!"
"This is Flash. Am taking too much sentry fire. Getting off the gate."
"Priamry ishtar is going down. Ishtar is going down!" Yelled Jorge, his prophecy's lasers scorching across the dark vacuum.
"Secondary is Joe's Load. Secondary is Joe's Load. I repeat -" I was interrupted by another gate activation. Sarvic arrived but following close behind him was the large looming presence of a Hyperion-class battleship.
"Told you they would be bringing battleships!"
I hit the mwd but I had two vagabonds now scrambling me. The sentry guns had taken me down to 15% shield and I had no repairers. I tried to warp but I knew I was most likely warp scrambled.
You are unable to warp due you being warp scrambled.
I hit the mwd to get as much distance from the gate guns as I could.
My hurricane was now into armour and red lights flashing all over. "Flash here. I need to get out of here. Am into armour and those gate guns are kicking my ass am moving out."
"Primary ishtar is now definitely down!"
"New primary is Joe's Load. Secondary is Pyrothraxus." It sounded like Snake was now target calling. Excellent work by one of the hardest working pilots in the group. Now stepping up to do some ad-hoc FC work. "Jorge. Point the hyperion."
I had two Red Tide pilots, Nate Dogg and Scrofalitic One, both in vagabonds chase me and add their fire to the gate guns. I could not shake the vagabonds. One vaga I can handle but two would be a handful and two vagas with gate guns? At least I knew that I was leading them away from the other ships.
"Flash is down. Flash is down." I said as I punched my capsule out of the deteriorating battlecruiser.
Name: nate dogg (laid the final blow) Security: 2.2 Corp: Red Tides Alliance: None Faction: NONE Ship: Vagabond Weapon: Vagabond Damage Done: 6535
Name: Trusword Security: 3.5 Corp: Red Tides Alliance: None Faction: NONE Ship: Capsule Weapon: 150mm Railgun II Damage Done: 3698
Name: Scrofalitic One Security: 4.3 Corp: Red Tides Alliance: None Faction: NONE Ship: Vagabond Weapon: 220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II Damage Done: 2856
Destroyed items: Medium Energy Neutralizer I EMP M, Qty: 275 425mm AutoCannon II 425mm Medium 'Scout' Autocannon I Large Shield Extender II Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive Overdrive Injector System II Gyrostabilizer II Gyrostabilizer II Damage Control II 10MN Afterburner I (Cargo) Medium Hull Repairer I (Cargo) Fusion M, Qty: 42 (Cargo) Gyrostabilizer I (Cargo) Warp Disruptor I (Cargo) Core Defence Field Extender I
Dropped items: Medium Energy Neutralizer I 425mm Medium Prototype I Automatic Cannon 425mm AutoCannon II 425mm AutoCannon II 425mm AutoCannon II EMP M, Qty: 53 Stasis Webifier II Large Shield Extender II Counterbalanced Weapon Mounts I Overdrive Injector System II Medium Armor Repairer I (Cargo) EMP M, Qty: 500 (Cargo) Hornet EC-300, Qty: 6 (Drone Bay)
The butcher's bill was one loss (my hurricane) with three confirmed kills of two Ishtars and one Hyperion. In the fight we were joined by Deathstar and Marovinchian (who just completed his paper work to join M34N) so at the end of the fight, we had a numerical advantage; I would expect this as Gusandall is our home.
Still, the action was pure Black-Flag fun and the last thing I heard before I docked was Jorge whooping in local:
'NOW THAT'S WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR!'
Indeed. Am now going to be on leave for the next two weeks - once again, the flesh pots of Auga call me and I have some er, unfinished business to attend to. With Jorge's ringing cheer still in my ear, I shut down the communication link.