After a crushing defeat where The Bastards lost almost an entire battle ship fleet to a mix of The Final Stand and their friends, it was time to recoup our losses and lick our wounds. From what I can gather, the fight was a good ol' fashioned toe-to-toe smash mouth type of engagement with no falcons on either side. TFS gave us a good spanking, smashing apart our fleet with 11-to-1 kill to loss ratio. Of course, we could not even pick up our loot or wrecks so it was a big isk loss too. Still, congratulations need to go to TFS for showing how effective a BS fleet can be.
The New Year started off with myself, Kalazar and Maltrox jumping into Rorsins to assist another pirate in tracking down a rokh-class battle ship. The pilot in question is normally red to us but pirates tend to put aside such small matters when there is a definite prize and in this case, a battle ship pilot, ratting in the belts was worthy enough to turn a blind eye to a fellow fleet member blinking an angry red. With a complete cruiser fleet we jumped through the high-sec pocket of Anher and the rendezvous point was to be Thelan.
Unfortunately, we were too slow to move as we had to wait for a criminal countdown to expire and by the time we were ready to move, the Rokh had docked up. After wandering around, with no targets in sight we returned to Evati for a refit, reload and break. The plan was to take one of the set roaming routes we have and travel the circuit.
In one of our many semi-public channels, filled with information brokers and their ilk, someone volunteered some juicy information.
"A raven and drake in Ofstold." Said our contact. I instantly perked up.
"Confirmation please? Pilot ID and general location?"
"Er, I left system now but caught them on scan."
"This is Kalazar. Am ready to roll. Let me have a look." With that, Kalazar zipped out of our station and performed a one-jump trip into Ofstold. I waited, scanning my sell and buy orders but keeping an ear open for anything solid from my fellow corp mate.
"Confirmed: there's a raven and drake here. About seven in local. I can see some pods too."
I grabbed Robert Peston, my rupture class cruiser and arriving in Ofstold, I also had a look. There was also a few other pilots around, moving between Ofstold and Evati. The chatter trickled through the various channels and slowly the fleet of four grew as a few more pirates linked in.
"This is Flash, confirmed raven and drake. I think they're at a pos. I also see a second drake and one wolf here."
A new voice joined the chatter.
"Need a prober?" It was Havoc, another new pilot with The Bastards. Probers are always so useful and a decent pilot with experience and skills is worth his weight in gold. I replied that we indeed, need one and soon Havoc was joined by another newcomer, BravoFox who was probing for targets but in Evati instead.
"This is Kalazar." He said, loud enough to cut through the chatter. "The Raven and Drake are currently at a POS. The POS is being taken down. It will be off-lined soon am sure....."
"Link pilot names please, we'll check them out to see if they have paid for protection." Kalazar efficient as ever, popped the pilot names and I soon had the corporation details and the employment history of each pilot. They had no passes or any standings with us. They are fair game.
"Let's nick their POS." Interjected Jedizah, linking in to the chat.
"Jed! - where are you?" I said, glad to see one of our best pilots back online. She must have been listening in and had not said anything until now.
"Urm, am docked up and nursing a slight hangover....but you said there's a POS being unanchored? In Ofstold?"
"Affirmative. Kalazar has eyes on it."
"We're going to nick it. Let me get a cloaked ship and I can get better intel. Wait one." With that, Jedizah raced off to make the necessary arrangements.
Meanwhile, the two probers were sifting through results but were having little luck. Probing is a tricky business and success is down to luck as much as skill and experience.
Jedizah, now with the prospect of a POS steal adding a bit of fire to her day confirmed what Kalazar had initially reported back.
"We have a medium POS being offlined. Guarded by a raven and now two drakes, two more pilots are in pods hanging around." There was a laugh from both Kalazar and Jedizah. "It's being unanchored now. Right, we are definitely going to nick it; right from under their noses!"
It was at this time that I discovered that The Bastards had a history of POS stealing, so many of these towers are being thrown up by corporations and then (apparently) forgotten or poorly defended has resulted in rich pickings. It looked very likely that we would add more within the hour.
"Okay, briefing time in two minutes!"
All the pilots in the fleet, available for this operation docked up and left their pods. We all met at the back of the smokey Independence bar in Evati (yes, I still own it) and pulled up chairs in front of Jedizah. We all had drinks and snacks and amidst good natured joshing, we settled in. The fleet now included three non-corp members, but pirates nonetheless. Jedizah outlined the plan on a white board:
"Right everyone. Listen up."
The chatter stopped.
"This medium tower in Ofstold will be unanchored in 57 minutes. I am going to get a cloaked hauler to slide up alongside it, ready for the grab." A hand shot up.
"You're kidding me? You're putting your hand up?" Said Jedizah. The embarrassed pirate pulled his hand back down sheepishly.
"Won't they have a hauler ready? And won't our hauler be decloaked and shot by them?"
"They do have a hauler but with two minutes to go before the POS tower is unanchored, we rush in with combat ships and blow up their hauler and every other ship guarding it." Stated Jedizah. This was greeted with murmurs of approval. "The unanchoring of the tower will continue and once we drop the enemy ships, we take the POS."
"What ships are we likely to face?" Asked Havoc.
"I'll answer that." Kalazar stood up beside Jedizah and tapped on white board and linking into his own tactical computer. The images of two ships appeared. "From what I can see, there's a raven-class battle ship and two drake-class battle cruisers. Two other pod pilots were in the their capsules so we're hoping that they'll come back in something else when the tower goes off-line."
The pilot ID flashed across the board. "Corporation is called 'Commonwealth' and their members of Nebula Crusade Alliance."
"Who are they?" Asked someone.
"Thanks Kal." Said Jedizah as Kalazar sat back down. The images of the pilots and the ships disappeared and was replaced by the constellation map of Ofstold. With a swagger stick, Jedizah pointed out the system.
"We will rendevous on the Ofstold gate in Lasleinuer. Am sure they'll be watching the Ofstold gate in Evati." The map rotated a quarter turn and zoomed in.
"I want Flash and Kalazar to bring your HICs. Point and lock down the drakes. Flash you will have 'Kab Ikarus'. Kal, you get 'Infamewolf'." Both Kal and I exchanged looks and nodded. Nice to be bring out the HICs to this party, we both thought.
"Everyone else with a point, get the raven locked down tight and proper. Primary will be the hauler. Then the raven, then the drakes."
I nodded to myself, it was a simple smash and grab plan. Effective with not much to go wrong.
There were none.
"Okay, be ready in Las on the Ofstold gate in exactly 17 minutes. Let's go!"
Amidst the sounds of screeching chair and table legs, the briefing was over and the pirates went back to their ships and crew. With three minutes to go, all the ships were in position and ready to go in. We had the cloaked hauler already in the same system and the pilot was feeding us up to date intelligence. One of the floating pod pilots had returned in a shuttle.
I glanced at my tactical watch list and scrolled through the fleet pilots:
- Jedziah, Apocalypse
- BravoFox, Dominix
- Randgris, Ishtar
- Kalazar, Devoter
- Flashfresh, Broadsword
- Ard UnjiiGo, Rapier
- Havok Pierce, Harbinger
- Lea Shyavase, Thorax
- Yukkiro Amumishi, Drake
- Lumari, Eagle
"Okay, the drake targets are starting to orbit around the tower. It's going to be tricky with me cloaked up so close to them. Hope they don't decloak me! The raven is still stationary. Four minutes until POS tower is un-anchored."
"All pilots: final systems check and give me a status report." Ordered Jedizah.
"Flash here. Ready."
"Ard, Ready." So it continued with all fleet pilots reporting back their readiness. The clock read three minutes and I made ready. The timer trickled down to the two minute mark with what felt like glacial-like slowness but finally the order was given.
"Jump, jump, jump and warp to hauler at 10!" Said Jedizah. There was a single gate activation as all the ships jump simultaneously. Once we all materialised in Ofstold, I quickly re-oriented myself and warped to our cloaked hauler at the prescribed 10km range. My broadsword crew and I were eager for blood and as soon as I landed near the POS, I located and locked my designated target: Kab Ikarus in his drake-class battle cruiser. My warp disruption launcher, specially modified by some hacking scripts enabled me to push out a nigh-unstoppable disruption beam that would induce enough instability in my target's warp engines that they could not jump.
"Kab pointed." I said and I knew that the drake was doomed. There was a flash however as the raven managed to align and warp out. No one managed to get a point on it!
"Infamewolf pointed." That was Kalazar in his devoter. With us deprived of our primary target, we locked and pummelled the lumbering hauler. The pilot was no doubt expecting to scoop up the previous tower and was not expecting this. His ship was peeled back to the inner super-structure and destroyed. Our attention then switched to Infamewolf's drake; even with it's massive energy shielding, the firepower we had was overwhelming and it melted and died as did Kab's drake. We even managed to pod one of the shocked pilots.
As soon as the pretty explosion of the last destroyed ship evaporated, the POS tower unanchored. Excellent timing and on cue our industrial pilot decloaked and in one swift, well practised move - scooped the tower, burned away and cloaked. A clean get away.
We scored a tower, some okay loot from the drakes and with no risk and had a laugh doing it. A fast tackler would have been useful to get a point on the raven but meh.
Piracy. Love it.
In the words of Jedizah: "Yoink!"