Killing my targets - one by one....
"There is a FECKING FREIGHTER on scan!" Yelled someone. The call reverberating in the joint intelligence channels that all pirates have. "Freighter in Gultratren."
Nothing moves a pirate faster than the prospect of a pay-day and a freighter can be a mighty big pay day. We had word it was coming in from Ingunn and was already inbound towards either the Gusandall or Sotrenzur gates. There was a mad scramble as pilots from five pirates organisations roared out of the station and scattered towards the two gates; bumping the dwaddling industrials out of the way.
Some of the faster ships got to the Sotrenzur gate and jumped in. Others were still turning their ships in space and aligning.
"Who is the freighter pilot?" I asked. The only answer was a load of noise, talk of isk and non-sense.
"WHO THE HELL IS THE FREIGHTER PILOT?" I asked, a little louder.
"Er, Fest or Fester or something." Reported someone. I forgot who replied but a quick scan on the local communication channel and there was a pilot in Gusandall local called 'Festry'. That must be him I thought, panic rising as the prospect of this most juicy of prey slipping away from us.
I snapped on the ship's onboard scanners and performed a 360-degree scan. What I saw made my heart miss a beat.
"Contact. Contact. Contact. I have FESTRY in local and can confirm a providence-class freighter in local." From the angle of my scan, it was inline with the Eifer gate. "I think it's closing on the Eifer gate." I willed my rupture to turn around and face the right direction.
"We need to move, tacklers on the other side of the Gusandall gate in Eifer!" Said someone, it sounded like RoninData (The Bastards Corp) or Annapolis (Modern Amusement Corp); either way - everyone raced towards the gate. Festry disappeared from local as did the freighter. Jesus we're a bit slow today, I thought to myself.
"Festry jumped. He jumped into Eifer."
"Jumping now." Said someone. I approached the gate and was granted immediate gate activation, sling-shoting me into the Eifer system. I joined the tacklers on the other side. Checking the local communication channel, I saw that Festry was also there. His freighter was still under gate cloak and no doubt he was pondering his next move. He had to hurry, he had but seconds to act before the gate-induced sensor cloak disappeared.
"Freighter is under gate cloak. All ships spread out and get points ready." I said, dropping my own stargate-induced cloak and proceeding to orbit the stargate. Other pirates decloaked as well: Ard and RoninData from The Bastards and Annapolis. Our heavy hitting battleships had only just arrived on the Eifer gate in Gusandall.
My scanner pinged up.
"Contact. Contact. Contact. Freighter just decloaked. Get him!!"
A klaxon blared in the background, angry and potent.
"No one web him! Get a point first!"
We were all too far to immediately scramble the engines of the freighter. I was 38km and even over-loading my warp disruptor, it would only get a range of 28km. That's why they made micro warp drives, I thought as my ship start to shudder, the engines pushing the rupture towards the freighter. I slowly gained speed.
The freighter was slowly aligning to it's next destination. It was too slow and ungainly to escape. I could only imagine the thoughts racing through the mind of the freighter pilot as he was steadily surrounded by red, flashing, angry and hungry ships.
"Point!" Said Lord Saradomin.
"Pointed." Informed Serenator.
"Got it!!" That was RoninData.
We had it. Now came the hard bit, the freighter had a massive amount of structure and it would require a lot of firepower to kill it. The sentry guns spun up and started to fire at us, there were now a total of five ships and we shared the sentry gun's damage. More were coming in. We yelled for more damage. More battleships, crewed by battle-hardened and blood-thirsty pirates, answered the call.
Now to ransom it.
"Ronin. You do it. Ransom it. 500million isk. " Said someone.
"Okay, hold on." Replied RoninData. The freighter was now into armour and soon it was down to hull - thanks to the presence of a rokh- and hyperion-class battle ship adding to the firepower. I glanced down at the local channel and the avatar of Festry winked off. I checked my equipment to ensure it wasn't in error. He had disconnected his pod from his ship hoping for an emergency warp.
"He's logged. He's logged. The fool has disconnected his pod."
"Okay - wonder why the ransom negotiations ended so abruptly..."
"Kill the freighter before it emergency warps." With the prospects of a ransom now gone, we took it upon ourselves to destroy this ship. The combined firepower of eight ships just pulverised the unfortunate freighter into scrap a few seconds later. The resulting wreck twinkled, all forlorn in the night sky.
What was odd about that freighter?
It was completely empty. No cargo.
Cynabal - we want it
Chasing down a faction cruiser is always fun. So anyone flying one around Eifer and Gusandall is bound to attract attention - pirates are always looking for 'bling' kills and faction kills are sweet. Ransoms also work well with faction ships. They're relatively hard to get on the open market and expensive when they are available. To fully utilise it, faction and rare modules tend to be used in place of the more plain tech one variants. You wouldn't drink a vintage Chateaux Du Paris '89 in a plasteel cup would you?
All in all, these ships are highly coveted things. Both to keep in your hangar and for us pirates, to kill to get the CONCORD kill mail.
So, I was there chilling in a safe spot and enjoying the sights of the stars wheeling above my head when the shared intelligence crackled to life. It was Assassin X, a pirate from the ever-present Mean Corp.
"Flash, I have a cynabal in Auren. Trying to scan it down."
A fleet was quickly formed from the pirates lounging around and my rupture slid into position on the gate. Kane Rizzel joined us, with his broadsword. Daplat Mode was in his HIC as well but he volunteered to sit at the Auren gate in Gusandall, in case our cynabal pilot made a run for it. Of course, Auren had a gate back into Empire space and safety but we hoped he wouldn't do that.
A fleet of three then joined Assassin X and our prober (who shall remain nameless).
"Flash here. Will sit on the Gusandall gate in Auren - just in case our Cynabal pilot comes towards me."
"He can always jump into high-sec." Ventured someone.
"True, let's hope he becomes complacent."
"I have a hit!" informed out prober. We all warped eagerly to the spot. It was empty. Our instruments still registering the tell-tale signs of a recent warp drive activation. We waited for the next probe cycle and we got another hit, and on arrival, we had just missed him once more. We decided that, like most pilots, the cynabal pilot will cycle through his safe spots and left one of our own in each newly discovered safe spot. There was a strong probability that the pilot would eventually come back and get a VERY nasty shock.
I waited patiently in my spot as did the others, scattered across the three to four safe spots around. We did not have to wait long.
"Contact. I have a point on the cynabal. Warp to me." It was Gousgounis Theos (Mean Corp) who had the luck. The cynabal landed on him, it was pointed and within moments, the other three had descended on it and proceeded to tear it to pieces. I was locked by the desparate pilot, the cynabals strength was speed and we threw as many webs on it as we could. It strength was not heads-up toe-to-toe fighting and against overwhelming odds; he was doomed.
"Ransom the ship."
The avatar of the pilot then winked off.
"Kill his ship. Find the pod. Kill the pilot."
The Cynabal shuddered and burst open as our explosive ordnance detonated something inside the ship. The pod instantly emergency warped out but we found it easily enough. Without any ceremony, we podded the pilot and pulped the bio-mass. All the tech two gear on the cynabal was lost bar one overdrive injector. Oh well. Like I said, a bling kill mail will have to do.
Lesson for would be prey: If there are probers in the system - cycle through your safe spots once but do not linger in one spot too long or repeatedly return to one. Chances are one or more may have been cracked open and you will have a nasty surprise in store for you. Best you negotiate a ransom to leave the local system intact.
The other days had more kills and one loss (my rupture) to a well-executed trap where our little pirate gang was ambushed. No complaints. What goes around, comes around.
So in the last six days since my entry, I have chalked up the following kills:
A thrasher, a vexor, a huginn, x3 stabbers, coercer, cyclone, x2 rifter, hyperion, a freighter (!), a myrmidon, a thorax and a cynabal.
A fair few came from a new corp calling themselves the 'Elusive Russians'. Not so elusive as Kane and I found them readily enough.
Hunting them ravens
Now, not all days are full of yarr and isk and fire. Far from it. A pirate needs to be patient but coiled tight like a spring; ready for action. We spotted a couple of ravens missioning and finally managed to probe them down. We knew that they were stabbed to the max so we had HICS as our tacklers. These ravens were quick too in cutting through their mission: by the time the prober had settled close to them and provided a warp in point; the mission was almost complete. By the time the HICS were in the system and warping to our prober, the ravens (already aligned to leave) had almost completed the mission. By the time the first HIC popped warped into the area: both ravens had gone, the last one's engine exhausts leaving a glowing trail of plasma behind us.
So some disappointment for sure - we need to be smarter when hunting these mission runners. They endlessly churn through the agent missions 23/7 - day after back-breaking day.
Just recently, I sat down with Nightmare, the only other active Black-Flag pilot and we shared a drink and chatted. Haven't seen Nightmare or his friend Huaca in a while and it was good to catch up. This was it now: Black-Flag had been reduced to three pirates. The conversation quickly turned to what we could do with the corporation. We could not (I would not) seize control as it would be mutiny but nor could I stay indefinitely. I had sorted out the bills and sold as much of the (rather useless) loot on behalf of the corporation.
The hangars were empty now. Nothing left apart from tech one ammunition.
So we three now had come to a decision-point and we had stayed long enough to satisfy all requirements for pride and loyalty. What next? Nightmare muttered about staying for some unfinished business while Huaca was already leaving. He just wanted to say his farewells.
Since the problem with Black-Flag I had a number of invites from organisations and alliances. I thank them all but I really only have two choices: Mean Corp or The Bastards. Going solo had crossed my mind (what have I been doing since Viper Sam took his leave?) but Hiematar has her King of Solo Pirates and that is Kane Rizzel. A friend, a colleague, a brother. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. He will (singlehandedly) make life unpleasant for anyone foolish enough to cross his path. No, my solo days are not yet over but it's not the right time to drop back into this way of life.
So I considered Mean Corp - a bunch of cut throats, now part of the Mean Coalition of pirates. Jubes had left Black-Flag and joined up with them; strengthening them with his unique talents. In their ranks they counted fearsome pirates such as Ceraci (only 16 registered losses in her career!), WayCharles , Kerjin and RedBad. With their new Alliance and friends, I am sure that Mean are going places. Cap ships are in place too I believe.
However, it is the smaller corp, gleefully calling themselves, 'The Bastards' that I am going to throw my application to. Four ex-Black-Flag members had joined them and this has swayed my choice. Sarvic, Snake, Vertias and Jorge are all there and it's the continuity that is appealing to me.
Call me nostalgic but I miss flying alongside them in a gang consisting of hurricane-class battle cruisers. How the skies shake as we roar through towards a target.
So that's it for now. In a week or so, I will leave Black-Flag and be a Bastard. Not going to relocate as Gusandall is my home and the Bastards stomping grounds is but four jumps away. However, I will keep the small Black-Flag badge on my uniform for a while longer. I looked at our kill board and took down the details for prosperity: there was a crash about nine months ago and we lost a lot of data so the information below is not 100% accurate but there you go.
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