We wanted speed. We love speed. Not just ridiculous speed. No, ludicrous speed. So, it was that the order went out to all Bastards and friends (we include those bad girls, HellCats as well as our new corp applicants) to fit a ship and anything slower than 4KM/s would be laughed out and not included in the fleet.
I never did like the nano-craze, so didn't have the time or inclination to fit a ship up. Instead, I went down the faction route and grabbed my Republic Fleet Firetail; with i-stabs, nanos and ODs and a MWD - this little ship was fast and nippy. It had decent DPS, but the object was to be as fast as possible. So, a rag tag fleet of super-fast ships spewed out of the station. The fleet included the following:
We decided to pay EOA-ZC for a visit but nothing was possible, though we did pop a blackbird a few minutes earlier in a different fleet configuration. The destination was to be Paala and LXQ-2T jumping in point.
Fleet Command was appointed and the fleet raced ahead, many pilots whooping in joy at the sheer joy of ludicrous speed, boosted by the fleet command modules and gang skills of our wing and squad commanders.
We approached the gate after a few uneventful jumps through low-sec and bounced in; no scouts - just a mad rush. We gleefully call it a 'bum rush' and thus we clattered into the LXQ-2T gate in Paala. We paused to reform the fleet and to cuff some of our more exciteable members over the ear. We're pirates and once the drink and adrenaline starts flowing, discipline gets a bit lax.
A lone deimos-class HAC warped into the same gate as us; we locked him but he jumped through into LXQ-2T. Even before the FC could yell at us to follow him, the majority of the pirates had bum rushed on through after him.
LXQ-2T was quiet, there was a bubble but it was designed to catch ships trying to leave the system into Paala and not the other way. The deimos held it's gate cloak for as long as possible but physics soon won out and he appeared 24km from me. I cycled the target lock and had him, however I had no warp scrambler installed having stripped it out for a tracking disruptor. Others in the fleet had this covered.
"Point!" Yelled someone.
"Point!" Said another.
"Point!" The deimos was well and truly snared and since we were all in null-sec; there were no gate guns to spoil the party.
Everyone burned towards the deimos and under ten seconds, the deimos was smashed into a wreck and the pilot was grabbed and mercilessly podded back to the clone vats. Our blood was up. With the glorious sound of Letifer Deus's body, flash-freezing in the cold vacuum still ringing in our ears, a buzzard decloaked off my starboard side. I locked and pummelled it with projectile and rocket. It didn't have time to turn as it's thin armour was stripped off in flame-sputtering sheets. The pod warped out just as a United Freeman Alliance Prophecy streaked in. Possibly to assist, most likely being pulled in by the warp bubble and with Kulmid dropping a disruption sphere. He was going nowhere and our small weapons ripped into it. We were shocked at how quickly we sawed through his armour and destroyed it. Once the Concord notification came through, we knew why. It was a poor fit.
We hoped more wanton destruction would follow as we went deeper into null sec but there was nothing, just empty space. We eventually returned to Evati; happy at the run through. I retired to take care of some business; I believe a new fleet was formed up and went on yet another roam.
T1 cruiser roam down to Amamake Another day, another fleet another location. I was asked to be fleet command for this new gang that comprised of Sarvic, Shae Taen, DJ Akula, Spectre3353, Pacifist Priest, RnProphet, Jorge Belda, Mynxee, Marovinchian and one other who isn't a pirate and I don't want to name him - just yet.
"Fleet: this is Fleet Command. We roll in ten minutes. Cruisers only for this job. All available pilots, post your setup to fleet." My comms channel scrolled through with the ship types of the current gang. Plenty of firepower and scramble; not too much tank.
I asked Shae to be the gang's scout and gave the order for everyone to undock and make their way to the gate with Shae jumping in first. Like most gangs, people were not ready in time but I wasn't too bothered; making a mental note to do something about this next time.
"Shit. There's a camp here." Whispered Shae.
"Sorry?" I thought I heard it wrong; a camp - next door?
"A camp. A camp here. I see a falcon, a cerberus, a cane. I have ten seconds before I lose cloak." Shae sounded awfully calm. I had to think fast. Not all the ships were at the gate. I was missing a fair bit of DPS.
"Damnnit! OK Shae; am going to jump the fleet in. Prepare to burn back towards the gate."
"Cloaked drop......they're locking me.........they're firing on me."
"Fleet: jump." With a flash, the ships all whipped into Gultratren. Shae's gank-fitted thorax was being pummelled by the combined fleet and no doubt jammed as well. I hit my micro warp drive.
"Fleet: primary is FALCON. Burn towards it." What ships did jump, followed the command but I noticed that both Sarvic and Jorge were not present.
"Shae is down. Shae is down." That was fast, I thought and it was a testament to the damage potential that this enemy fleet possessed. Next it was me being selected as their primary target and it was only then that I realised my ship was fitted for ganking as well, not much of a tank in this one!
As auto canon shells streaked towards me from the hurricane and the lasers of the maller repointed I braced myself as my shield all flashed away into nothingness. The falcon then jammed me. I knew I was done for and I had seconds left.
"Fleet, this is fleet command. Primary is the falcon. Get it."
"He's cloaking!" Said someone.
"Damn it! Fecking ECM-pussies!" Cursed someone else, I love ecm - so long as it's on my side!
"Secondary is the cerberus." There was a shriek of escaping atmosphere and my ship broke apart around me.
"Sarvic! Get into something with a bit of DPS to knock these fools out!"
"That will be the Maelstrom then. Undocking." Then I was back out in space in my pod, joining Shae and racing back towards Evati. As I jumped through, Sarvic's mighty maelstrom went other way.
The remaining two minutes of combat was over relatively quickly under the mighty guns of the maelstrom: both the cerberus and the hurricane went down. The falcon and maller managed to escape. The cerb was a 180million isk loss and we grabbed the loot.
So I was a rupture down but I have at least six such vessels all fuelled, armed and ready to roll in my hangar. This time round, the cruiser gang was ready but I sent Jorge, Prophet and Marovinchian ahead as scouts and not Shae. Our destination was the infamous ship graveyard: AMAMAKE.
The journey down was fun with potential and real contacts all the way down into Dal but the real meat was the heaving system of Amamake. Prophet had already spied a large fleet sitting on the Amamake gate in Auga; by the IFF transponders, they were identified as members of the Tribal Militia - pod pilots who fight for the Minmater Republic. There was at least a dozen there from battle ship to frigate class.
Apart from Prophet, I had the fleet form up on me and I took stock:
No ECM but fast with very decent firepower. I glanced at the chrono and it read: 03:28 and I mentally made a note to kick things off at 03:30 hours.
I had no desire to over-kill anything so sent in Jorge and Maro into Amamake to sniff things out. Everyone else clustered around the Amamake gate. Within minutes, Maro had lured in the first of what would be many ships.
"Contact! Contact! A stabber class cruiser in belt with me. He's locking."
"Jorge confirms: Stabber class in belt. Jorge going for point." There was a hiss of static and then "Point."
"Point." Confirmed Maro. "Proceeding to unload on him." The rest of the fleet waited.
"Do we go in Flash?"
"Negative. Do NOT jump. Hold positions and wait. There's more than enough." Despite the grumblings, discipline held. We're pirates and I was pleased. I have been in many a gang when, as soon as a point been declared that EVERYONE rushes in, eager for the kill. No, I wanted to play it differently; as I wanted more kills. A sudden jump in numbers would deter many a would-be rescuer from undocking. No, patience is the best weapon. Within a minute, we were rewarded.
"Contact. Contact. Contact. Vexor and second stabber in belt." Informed Jorge. Maro didn't reply as he was probably busy ripping the first stabber to pieces.
"Myrmidon! Myrmidon! In Belt!" That was Maro. Looks like he was paying attention. Time to up the ante I said to myself.
"Both Vexors: GO. Warp to Maro. Primary is Myrmidon. Secondary is the Vexor." DJ Akula and Priest disappeared from my overview as they jumped into Amamake. I could sense the impatience in the remaining ships, still around the gate.
"Steady people. Patience. We'll get in. Patience."
"Enemy stabber is down. Switching point to vexor." Informed Maro.
"Myrmidon pointed. Releasing drones." Said DJ Akula, he was an aspiring applicant to us and had good credentials. Time for him to shine.
"Second stabber is moving too fast. I need a web on it damnnit!" Ordered Jorge, now acting FC as he was in the fight, rather than on the other side of the galaxy.
"Keep your eyes on the scanner, watch for reinforcements."
"Roger that Flash." Replied Priest as he started to look around. "Flash, I see a tempest and sleipnir on scan." A-ha. I thought to myself. The game is afoot.
"Shae, Mynx and Spectre: get ready." These three were holding around the gate with me, their lazy orbits hiding their impatience and the burning desire for violence.
"This is Prophet. Gang has left holding position in Auga."
"Proph: get into Amamake and assist Jorge."
"Roger that. I think elements of the Militia are in Amamake already." This changed things, and I made my decision.
"Shae, Mynxee and Spectre: jump, jump."
"About time." Muttered Mynxee; her husky voice dripping with menace. That's one woman I don't want to cross. There was the usual disorientation after a jump and it took me a second to work out where I was. I aligned my rupture to the belt where, in the distance, my pirate mates were ripping into the plucky enemy.
Whipping into the belt, my ship sailed through the sparkling debris of the first stabber. The second stabber was webbed and being ripped apart by drones, the enemy myrmidon was pointed and slowly going down. The enemy vexor was being attacked with vigour by Akula and someone else.
"Primary is myrmidon. ECM drones on the second vexor." The pirates smoothly switched targets and the myrmidon was down in little less than five seconds.
"Jorge: grab the pod."
"Do we ransom?"
"Shit." Said someone, then the pod disappeared in a flash. With no time to react; I saw a hurricane suddenly warp in. I locked me the moment that it's re-entry was stabilised. Part of me was also tensing for the appearance of two or more battleships in the belt.
"Contact. Contact. Contact. Jorge: point the hurricane. ECM drones on the 'cane. All firepower on the vexor and remaining stabber."
The two enemy ships were dropped in short order; with the vexor first. The vexor pilot expertly warped his pod away to safety.
"Grab the pod of the stabber."
"Pointed." Good old Jorge, efficient and deadly as usual.
"Ransom him for -"
"SHIT!" The pod disappeared in another flash. Just like the other one. What the hell? I thought to myself.
The hurricane popped under our fire but we missed the pod. Now to the mysterious pod popper. It was Prophet, who, in his hound was flinging cruise missiles at everything and he probably locked and fired on the pod, before Jorge could even get a point on the capsule. Mystery solved.
The remaining time was spent duelling with yet more ships; I believe both spectre and Maro managed to get another couple of kills; quite irritating when one wants to take the fleet home and certain members keep getting themselves criminally flagged! The battleships we had spotted never did make it to a belt or planet.
The return journey back to base was uneventful. Our stay in Amamake only lasted 29 minutes and we had no losses, six kills (no ransoms) and a pot of shiny loot.
Yet another roam and the death of a mega navy issue
With the nano nerf now upon us; RoninData decided on a nano-gang and a jaunt into 0.0 - however; we ended up losing a crow for no kills. The gang did try and chase down an abaddon who was stabbed up and nano'ed. It was faster at turning and warping than some of our cruisers.
However, under RoninData we decided to go in a big scary battle cruiser gang - after the disappointing 0.0 roam in nano-ships; we wanted something bigger. The battle cruiser class is a firm favourite of ours as it is fast, can bring decent fire power and relatively inexpensive. Certainly, more improvements can be done but overall, it isn't a bad ship.
San and some of our crew went for the 'in-yer-face' gank brutix. Cramming as many neutron blasters and magnetic stabilisers as they could and armour be damned. Then we had the four hurricane pilots (myself included) who went for the 425mm auto canon shield ganker. Not as damaging as the brutix but a bit more surviveable. We also had some harbingers, a myrmidon and one rupture.
All in all, a fleet of 13 foul-mouthed, isk-hungry, gun-happy pirates. Oh yes; it was going to be fun.
Ronin asked me for a route, I chose Amamake but it was voted down, instead - they wanted to move North and head into Paala and then into Etherium Reach. A fair enough choice; I just wanted targets. We moved into Akkio with Bandy as a scout and we reached into Otosela. I hesitated and waited since I was the last to jump. I noticed thatlocal started to go up; not down.
I hit the scan button and found nothing but local had some reds and oranges appear. For those who are interested, we code all known hostiles as either red or orange.
The fleet had already gone ahead with Bandy in the lead; when I hit the scan once more. Something was nagging me. What I saw on scan split my face with a grin.
"Check, check. This is Flash. Hostiles on scan in Akkio. I am on the Otosela gate. I see a BS heavy fleet from the gate. Linking names."
The ships included a tempest, megathron, armageddon, raven, sleipnir and a megathron navy issue. Yes, that last ship was worth more than all our 13 ships. This caused a stir of excitement and I was asked to stay near the gate while the Sarge made his way over to join me. The rest of the fleet, re-assembled near a belt inside Otosela and waited, the communications channel loud with excitement. RoninData let the pirates swear and yarr for a bit before imposing some discipline.
"Flash: can you confirm the fleet and numbers?" I scanned again and confirmed. Sarge, in his hurricane, had now appeared alongside me. He too confirmed the numbers and we decided that the ships were either outside the only station in Akkio or in a safe spot close by the gate. The majority of the BS heavy fleet was within 4 AU of us.
"This is Flash, I think they're at the station. Am going in at 100km to eye ball. Stand by."
The hurricane slid into warp easily and deposited me 100km from the station. My overview filled up with angry, red flashing icons.
"Contact. This is Flash. Confirmed that hostile battleships are outside the station." I turned the hurricane around and aligned back towards the Otosela gate. It was an obvious sign to them.
"Shall we bum rush them?" Asked one pirate, eagerness and excitement clear.
"Nah, they'll dock up. We need to get them out into the open." Replied RoninData.
"Would be nice at a planet or belt. Don't want to tangle with BS heavy gangs and worry about sentry fire." Said San, eager to unleash hell from his brutix.
"Flash and Sarge, can you lure them to us in V-1?" Asked Kulmid.
"We'll try." Replied Sarge. "And there's more of them too now. That gang has been joined by another megathron and possibly a rapier."
"Am coming back to the gate, I think the battleships know we're here." I said, this brought some chuckles as I began hitting top speed and then leaping back into warp and towards the gate.
"That Navy Mega would be a juicy kill for us." Voiced Bandy, which brought much murmurs of agreement.
I landed at the gate and for some reason my heart-rate was higher than usual; as if, already aware of the oncoming violence. Suddenly, there was a burst of light and an armageddon class battle ship appeared next to me, golden, bulbous and threatening then a tempest class and then finally a raven class battle ship to join him.
"Contact! Contact! Contact! They're here at the gate!" Yelled Sarge. This was our cue to activate warp gates and get the hell out.
"Flash is jumping." My ship began winking out as the gate started to form the worm hole. Meanwhile, more hostile ships warped in. They were coming and in force.
"Sarge is jumping."
I was slingshoted to Otosela. My ship was on red alert already.
"Flash and Sarge. Was the navy mega with them?"
"Negative RoninData. He wasn't with the first group. We jumped before we saw them all."
When I arrived, I instantly aligned to belt V-1 and warped. Sarge was a bit slower and local leapt up as the hostiles jumped alongside Sarge.
"Come on turn you piece of junk!" Yelled Sarge at his hurricane, slowly, majestically re-aligning to the new position. While I was in warp, I could hear Sarge informing everyone that he could hear hostile target locks. He managed to warp before the locks resolved.
I was spat out into belt V-1 and into the friendly embrace of my fleet, all 11 of them. Soon; Sarge limped in. Local had gone up by about nine and then finally, twelve. No doubt, the hostile fleet could see us in local as we could see them. We were too far from them for an accurate scan. So our exact ships types, for now, was not known to them. At least we knew what they had.
So we waited. It would only be a matter time before they scanned us down. No doubt, covert ops ships would be flying towards us now. We had to play thing cool.
"Belt V-1!" Challenged Kulmid, bold as brass. Oh well, out goes subtleness.
"Belt V-1 and NO ECM!" Added San.
"Raaarrr!" Someone else said.
"BRING THEM ON!"
"Kill them and let the blood flow."
"We're in Belt V-!"
"What are you waiting for?"
I detected a change in our behaviour. As pirates, we kill for isk and loot though we like a good fight like any other pilot. We know when a fight is not worth the ammunition expended and we also know when to stay to get payout. However, there is a certain, adrenaline-junkie side to all pirates that was coming to the fore. We were certainly out-gunned as we had no battle ship class amongst our fleet and the numbers were more or less even. I think we had one more ship than the hostile gang. The fight that was looming was going to be a bare knuckle brawl. Toe-to-toe and no retreating. Sometimes, one fights to get isk, to seize control of assets. Other times, a fight starts (and ends) only to establish and maintain a reputation. I felt tonight it would be the latter and my own berserker fury was building. I could hear the crews of the other ships already howling with glee and barely suppressed anger and excitement.
I quickly reviewed our fleet. It comprised of 11 battle cruiser class and one cruiser and one recon class ships:
The rational, tactical and strategic side of my mind, was slowly being crushed under the red mist of berserker rage though it was not entirely extinguished. It told me that a battle cruiser pilot needs to live by this maxim: 'Out gun what you can not out run. Out run what you can not out gun." There would be no running tonight, I thought grimly.
"Come on. Where are they?"
"Probably bringing in reinforcements?"
One of the hostile pilots responded to our challenges.
"No ECM? Then why do you have ECM drones out?"
Well, at least that cleared things up - they had a scout close enough to scan us. We really should have scooped our drones.
"No ECM boats. No rooks or falcons or such. Drones are piffing little things. Frankly, they're shit." Fired back San.
"Yeah, yeah. Also, we're having some problems with some of our pilots synching into the communications channel. Some have de-synched." He replied.
"Bringing in reinforcements? You can see us in belt v-1. There's equal numbers here. What are you afraid of?" Replied San, taking the mantle as our spokesman.
"No, you out number us." There was a hesitation. "By one."
Hmmm, quite rare for intelligence of any type to be given out or even confirmed. We slowed our orbit and pinged the scanners furiously. Minutes and minutes ticked by. The hostiles were largely from Heretic Nation alliance and we've tangled with them before. There was no sign of them though local had not changed in numbers. We had no eyes on either side of us, in Akkio or Uemon or in Tasti. A whole new hostile fleet could be assembling there and we would not know. The atmosphere was reaching fever pitch; Sarge and Kulmid were pounding the war drums and RoninData was having trouble holding us back. I sincerely hoped that this display of testesterone would not be scaring our new applicants too much. We had two applicants with us: Maltrox and Elitia.
"Come on! Bring it. BRING IT YOU FUCKERS!" That was Maltrox.
The hostiles had warped closer as we could now see two battle ships on scan. An armageddon and a megathron. Soon joined by a second megathron and the megathron, navy issue.
"I see them on scan!" Declared someone, his voice hoarse.
"They're finally coming." Croaked someone else. My heart was pounding so hard, it felt like my rib cage would burst. It is the waiting before an inevitably fight that is the worst time. However, the time was close. All I could hear was the thud-thud-thud of my heart beat. Even the berserker howling from some of my more feral compatriots was now muted. Someone slammed on a thumping sound track that roared through our communications channel and that was it: we were now a bunch of socio-pathic, homicidal killers.
"Bring it! Bring it! BRING IT NOW!"
"Remember Mega navy issue is primary!" Said RoninData, his orders now almost lost in roar of noise and excitement. I think only a handful of us heard him.
The first hostile ship winked into existence inside the belt. Then the second, third and the others came in.
The battle was joined as our fleet of battle cruisers surged into the hostile fleet as they roared into us; afterburners blazing. The space between the two groups was filled with a deadly and dazzling shower of screaming missiles, blazing laser fire and buzzing drones, weaving in and out. My auto canon rattled away as it furiously chewed through my Republic Fleet EMP rounds; my target was the looming megathron, 7km from me.
"Turn ten degrees port side, target 'Alpha' is the navy issue megathron and secondary target 'Beta' is the Dyphos' Megathron. Reload HAIL ammunition!"
"Yessir!" replied my tactical officer.
"Bring up the warp disruptor. Scramble that raven class battleship!"
"PRIMARY is El'Tar in Navy Mega. SECONDARY is 'Spoony' in megathron." Ordered RoninData. The fearsome Federation Navy Issue Megathron, a specialised build on the already, magnificient megathron battle ship hull was taking a furious pounding from us though it was assisted by a remote repairing tempest piloted by Hercules Strongarm.
We lost two brutix class battle cruisers in the first ten seconds under a furious shower of fire. The Navy issue megathron was our prize, all 1+billion isk worth of war gear. It was our focus. Our reason for being. It had to die. With the Navy mega now into armour, another brutix of ours popped and I was picked by the enemy raven for some special love.
"We're locked Captain!" Yelled my tactical officer.
"Hard to starboard, get closer to them!" My hurricane was rocked and punched sideways, kicking off proximity alarms as I came close to colliding with Bandy in his hurricane, already on fire and spinning helplessly away from the fight, his engines shot out from underneath him.
"Kill the Navy Mega!" I roared. The fire poured on from the remaining ship and the black hull battle ship, centre piece of this fleet, blew apart in a million pieces. Our remaining ships switched to the secondary megathron and we locked 'C7P9' in his raven as our third target. To my left and slightly above, another hurricane blossomed in a fire ball. The devastation was total, incinerating what ever life pods managed to get out.
A second shower of missile fire bathed my hurricane and an enemy rapier had me webbed and target painted. From the camera drones, I could see deadly torpedoes being loaded and aimed at me from the raven.
"No shields, substantial armour damage to the hull plating across all decks. We're leaking engine plasma and navigation is not responding."
I was dead. I had died the moment the hostile fleet had warped in.
"That rapier has has lit us up like a fecking christmas tree!"
"A christmas what?" I asked; not too sure what my tactical officer was referring to. It is odd that in times of near ship death, one latches onto some small inane little thing.
"A tree sir! A fucking tree!"
A tree? I thought. Odd to be chatting about trees I mused just as the final missile and torpedo salvo punched clean through my hurricane. My hurricane tried to stay together, something holding it's shape together a split second before the laws of physics came crashing in.
"Flash is down. Flash is down." I warped out and so did what was left of my crew. With RoninData also down, San and Kulmid out of the fight; it left Sarge to marshal what forces were left.There was very little left. Sarge had to make do.
"Sarge is now FC. Primary is C7P9 and secondary is AddictTadpole in the 'geddon."
I warped out of the system and if the fight was to last longer than a minute, I would back. However, Sarge went down, guns blazing to the remaining ships. Our remaining ships (all two of them) managed to get out. The butcher's bill was high for us. Of the 13 ships that had entered belt V-1; only two got out. Maltrox and Elitia managed to extract themselves.
Heretic Nation held the field and had the spoils of our wrecks and loot. It was a great fight and tactical analysis revealed that the hostile fleet comprised of the following:
The loss of the Navy Megathron bumped up the isk efficiency to us but the fight was won by Heretic Nation; they held the field and while they lost more in terms of isk. They had the wrecks, loot and kills to look over.
A fantastic contest and concord recorded the following; it included the sentry guns and some gurista pirates. Bandy came back in his reaper for some reason while Hercules actually ended up shooting his own side.
All the survivors had a tremendous buzz from this and we wanted more.However, fate had already decided that our fun was over, at least for now. Well done Heretic Alliance!